What the hell is this?

Mother Muckraker is an internal newsletter at the now defunct New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) in Fremont, CA. The newsletter seeks to debunk the lies and misinformation spread by Toyota and their "company activists"; and more importantly, inform NUMMI union employees about the real reason why Toyota closed their award winning auto plant on April 1, 2010. NUMMI is dead, but Mother Muckraker lives on to serve as a testament to the greedy machinations of Toyota management. Stay tuned for updates.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Someone died in an accident at NUMMI – April 2009


From: MM o1o 3/31/10

Sometime in April 2009, there was a person working here who was struck by falling pallets, hit his head on the floor and died. We have had a couple safety meetings since April 2009 and absolutely nothing was mentioned about this incident. I have asked team members from several different groups and none of them have heard of this incident. Why was this not mentioned during safety meetings? Is the company trying to sweep this under the rug?

I find the language used with regards to this safety investigation suspect. What is “D company”? Was this person working for one of our contractors? Where exactly is “I plant”? If you look at the Current Safety Investigation sheet, the drawing shows a “Painting machine”. Did this happen in the Paint department? And most importantly, who is “victim A”?

Did he/she have a spouse? Did this person have kids to take of? Who are the parents? Friends? These people suffered a tragic loss. It does not matter if this person worked as a contractor or NUMMI. This person died working here and his family needs to be compensated and we all should have been notified so we can prevent future tragedies. If someone knows about this, they need to speak up.

There is no legitimate excuse for not mentioning this during safety meetings. It’s extremely disrespectful to brush this aside like this. They did not even use this person’s name. THIS PERSON HAS A NAME!! People working here make Toyota and their contractors lots of money and when something like this happens, proper respect and compensation must be shown. Where’s the trust and respect? It was all just a lot of talk without action to back it up.

Reminder: You Can Take Your Time Signing for the Retention Package

If you feel you have been wronged by the company, consult a labor lawyer before signing for the retention money. If you sign, you can’t sue the company. Keep in mind that for those of you getting only the minimum of $21k, that is a gross amount. After taxes, that money will not amount to much.


MM009 correction:
The banner in Trucks say “Quality Protects Jobs” not “Saves”. In either case, the context is the same. It is a lie. Trucks achieved a 0 DPV last year.

“An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”
-Industrial Workers of the World motto

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Micheal Moore: Capitalism – A Love Story

A movie review of Michael Moore’s latest documentary out on DVD now

In Trucks, there’s a huge banner by management saying, “Quality Saves Jobs”. We did everything right. NUMMI had the fewest defects in their latest internal audits of all Toyota plants and is continuing to post record low defects day after day; yet, Toyota is shutting down NUMMI eliminating thousands of jobs across the state. “Quality Saves Jobs”? The hell it does. They lied because you are unemployed. The income we earn here at NUMMI will not be replaced. Many of you will eventually lose your home. Our kids won’t be able to go to college without incurring a huge debt. We will not get adequate health care and some will die because of it.

It wasn’t always like this. In the film, Capitalism - A Love Story, Michael Moore takes us back to his childhood. His father worked on an assembly line. His dad got 4 weeks paid vacation, free health care, mortgage paid off, one income family, Michael went to Catholic school, and his dad had a pension. Michael had a great childhood. It was a good life for blue collar folks back then. How did we get from making a decent living to this?

Back when Michael Moore was kid in the 1950s, the marginal tax rate for people earning over $1 million was 90%. All that money from rich people built an economic infrastructure that allowed the middle class to flourish. Highways were built. Schools were built. Things that we needed were paid for from that money. Living well allowed the civil rights movement to grow. Money allowed us time to learn about what is going on and confidence to fight for our rights. Even with a 90% tax rate, rich people were still living well, but many running big corporations did not see it that way. They wanted to keep all their wealth.

So in 1980, the greedy capitalists got one of their guys in the White House, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a B-movie actor and a corporate spokesmodel on TV and print ads selling products in the 60s. Ronnie was a salesman. Ronnie served as a corporate propaganda figurehead telling folks that unrestrained capitalism was the way to wealth, heath and happiness for everyone. Ronnie’s right-hand man, Don Regan, CEO of Merrill Lynch, was always at his side telling him what he should do. Don Regan was caught telling Reagan, the President of the United States, “you’ll have to speed it up.” when Reagan stumbled over a few words and took a little too long making his speech. The President wasn’t calling the shots. Don Regan, the CEO of Merrill Lynch was telling him what to do. This country was to be run like a corporation with the production of profits at all costs. Hell with people, the capitalists need to make money.

So What Happened From 1980 to 2000?

GM started closing plants and laying off 10s of thousands of their workers. One of the casualties was our former GM plant here in Fremont which closed in 1982. GM was making record profits but they were closing plants all over the country. It was a union busting operation on a large scale. UAW membership was decimated. At the same time, productivity rose 45% during that time period. People who were left working were working harder.

As a result of these plant closings and forced concessions, blue collar wages went up only 1% during this period. The richest people had their taxes cut in half. Household debt went from 47% of our GDP to 111%. More people had to live off their credit cards. Bankruptcies went from 287,000 to 2,039,000 as a result. More people were incarcerated. It went from 503,586 in jail to 2,293,157 which gives the U.S. the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. Healthcare costs jumped up 78% during that period. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average went from 875 to 15,000. The ratio of CEO pay to workers jumped 649% (from 1/35 to 1/365) In 2009, the income disparity is back to 1930’s levels. Hurray for capitalism!

During that same period, GM and Toyota decided on a joint venture, NUMMI. It had nothing to do with saving our jobs. They were both learning how to take advantage of the new “pro-business” Reagan administration. GM was learning the Toyota Production System. The foundations of TPS lies with timing each movement and filling in takt time completely with work. GM did not have this and many of their jobs back in the day were relatively easy compared with what goes on at NUMMI nowadays. Ben Hamper, who wrote “Rivethead”, documents some of his experiences working on a GM assembly line. Ben would often work only 4 hours and get paid 8 because he would rotate jobs with another guy doing 2 jobs. He would do 2 jobs while the other guy slept or went to the bar and then the other guy would come back and do 2 jobs while he went off to whatever he wanted to do. Working on an assembly line back in the day was pretty good. Imagine just doing ½ (or less) of a NUMMI assembly line job every day. Pretty good eh? But after GM started to time every element, there was no time left over and assembly line work became as brutal as any Japanese factory.

GM also learned how to form a company union from Toyota. In Japan, most of the Toyota workers are represented by a Toyota sponsored union whose union leadership are appointed by the company instead of being elected. The result is a very obedient workforce in Japan. People there will not speak up. At NUMMI, the success of the UAW cooperating with management led to the UAW doing the same at GM. They call it “jointness” at GM. To put it simply, management at GM asks for a concession and the UAW gives in without a fight. “Jointness” is nothing more than a company union.

Not much is discussed about what Toyota learned from GM as it’s assumed that Toyota had nothing to learn. Toyota learned something all right. Toyota watched as GM closed plant after plant in the 80’s while GM was still making a huge profit. Although Toyota had promised their workers job security, they eventually succumbed to the American way of putting profits over everything. Toyota knew that demand will level off and to keep their banker shareholders happy, they needed to keep profits high by lowering wages. They will just do it like GM. Toyota will close their only union plant to bust the union and pave the way towards lowering wages at their other plants even though they have been making record profits over the last few years and have a huge amount of cash to the tune of $39 billion (9/30/10)

But what can anyone do? There are too many people who think that you have to take whatever crap that comes your way which is false. In the movie, Moore gives examples of what people can do and already are doing with huge success. Some organized their neighbors to keep a family in their home. Some formed their own company in the form of a co-op and make $65k working in a bread factory. They are all forms of “democracy” where everyone has a say in how to run things.

One Person One Vote - Democracy

The richest 1% owns 99% of the wealth. The rich would have you think that you should “vote with your dollars”. But what if you don’t have money? Since the rich owns 99% of the wealth and you “vote with your money”, the rich have all the votes and you just have to take whatever crap is handed to you. But what gets in the way of the rich is “democracy” where 1 person equals one vote. The rich guy with a billion dollars still only has one vote. The people have 99% of the votes when you vote with democratic means instead of money. For example, if enough people get together and collectively vote to raise marginal tax rates for the rich back to 90%, that can happen because we have 99% of the votes while the top 1% only have 1% of the votes. Get how that works?

Corporations only know how to vote with their money. They can now give unlimited campaign contributions to buy off politicians to pass whatever laws that work in their favor. They use money to make enticing ads. They use money to bribe. But corporations can’t use democracy to further their cause because they still only have one vote. We can use democracy to win because we have all the rest of the votes.

Believe it or not, this plant closing was not inevitable. It did not have to happen. If there were enough of us exercising our democratic rights in the beginning, Toyota would not dare to close their best plant. If we had protested over including language in our contract that avoids strikes, we could’ve brought them to their knees by taking away their labor. But, the no strike clause is in our contract which greatly diminishes our power and allows the company to do whatever they want to us because they know they will still have our labor. We can’t take away their most valuable resource with a no strike clause.

But don’t think of this as a failure. Think of this as a learning experience. Learn what we did wrong as a union. Learn what democratic actions you have to take. Learn about who these politicians are and what their motives are. Learn about which laws hurt you and which help you. There’s a lot you can do. For example, getting the Employee Free Choice Act passed will help working people. It will make forming unions easier. More money will flow towards working people. But that won’t happen without your participation. If enough people raise the issue, we can outlaw the trading of derivatives which caused the 2008 financial crisis. But that won’t happen without your participation. Democracy requires you to get off your rear end and take action. You educate yourself. You discuss issues with people to find the truth. You speak up in protest. You write. This is not the end. It’s a beginning. Future generations are depending on you. Whether it’s the beginning of oppression and poverty or the beginning of a popular revolt designed to increase middle and lower class wealth is up to you. Michael Moore ended his documentary asking for people to join him in his fight for democracy. What are YOU going to do?


It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.
--Warren Buffett, world’s richest person 2007


I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
--Thomas Jefferson, 1816

9 out of 10 of Toyota’s top 10 shareholders are financial institutions.

Lies Lies Lies - NUMMI Toyota Lies

The closing of NUMMI is nothing new. Back in the late 80's when GM closed plants in Flint Michigan, they were making their highest profits ever. People in that city never recovered and the city of Flint has been laid waste. Now in 2010, we have the same situation with Toyota. Toyota was already planning to lower labor costs in a big way in 2006 when they posted their highest profits ever. Now, Toyota has $39 billion in cash as of 9/30/09 which is enough to weather any storm, but they are closing NUMMI anyways. GM learned a little about producing quality from Toyota. And what did Toyota learn from GM? Toyota learned how to union bust.

Toyota knows that demand will eventually level off as no company can grow indefinitely. To keep profits high for their greedy financial institution shareholders, they are willing to pay people less money so the company keeps more of the money. Toyota is closing NUMMI to get rid of their only union plant to pave the way towards lowering wages in N. America. That's what Toyota will never tell you. If they are screwing you over why would they tell you the truth? Instead, they spread their red herrings, misinformation and straight up lies either directly through official company spokespeople or companymen posing as loyal union workers.

Lets look at ALL the lies. Lies about why NUMMI is closing as well as lies about the union and you, the worker. You will need answers to these lies. If you don't know the answers, then the lie becomes truth in the eyes of the uninitiated public. A sullied reputation will hamper your financial success in the future. Know the answers and be ready to answer whether they be a prospective employer, friends or family so your good reputation remains intact.


LIE: It's GM's fault !!
GM’s decision to leave in the wake of bankruptcy in summer 2009 made NUMMI no longer viable for Toyota. 2001-09 is 15.41% is GM production. The 10-15% of GM production are nothing more than a Toyota Matrix rebadged as a Pontiac Vibe. The GM cars are Toyota products. Since production are all Toyotas, then money coming in (revenues) is the result of Toyota sales and GM leaving has little to do with NUMMI's viability.

After GM filed for bankruptcy, they pulled out of NUMMI and we produced Toyotas exclusively working Saturdays and overtime to meet the demand. So with GM gone, there's even MORE revenue coming from the sales of Toyotas.

LIE: Toyota has significant excess capacity in North America.
This is based on Toyota's own internal forecast of demand based on the 2008 economic crisis. But how many hours have we been working lately? ALL plants have been working overtime. Where's the excess capacity?

LIE: NUMMI is plagued by long supply lines from the Midwest.
And for 25 years they have put up with that? 1/3 of parts come from Japan where we are closer. Also, many cars are sold to Californians which will offset the costs of parts coming from the midwest. It costs $750 to deliver each car. That, in and of itself, would offset the costs of some parts being delivered from the midwest. Also, there will be numerous supplier plant closings around Northern California like Injex in Hayward.

LIE: The plant is too old.
Toyota and GM both have plants as old as NUMMI, but they are still operating. It's just a building. It's the machinery that is being constantly upgraded. It would actually be more efficient to use an older plant as an economy of scale has been realized.


The above 4 main lies spread by Toyota are answered and debunked by the NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission in their 32 page report:
http://treasurer.ca.gov/nummi/report.pdf

Whenever the subject of unions come up, you can bet that the lies will start. These lies originate from union buster firms (Labor Relations Consultants, labor avoidance firms), then to human resources, then to labor relations folks, then to employees who are "company activists". Lets look at some more lies:


LIE: GM is responsible for closing NUMMI and they need to put up some money for our severance pay.
GM filed for bankruptcy and the bankruptcy laws keep them from paying us anything. If the union spent time going after GM, that means chasing after money that does not exist. That is what Toyota wants us to do. Anyways, GM production made up only a small part of total production so the bulk of the money coming in is from Toyota sales which benefits Toyota more. Also, Toyota could've bought GM's share of NUMMI for pennies on the dollar because of bankruptcy, but Toyota chose not to. It was Toyota's decision to close NUMMI. Toyota is financially responsible 100%.

LIE: NUMMI is not Toyota.
Again, this is used to divert attention away from Toyota. All of Toyota's plant in N. America are "separate" corporations. In Texas, Toyota's plant is under a corporation owned by Toyota called Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas or TMMTX. "NUMMI" is just a name. It could've been called anything. NUMMI could've been called "Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Fremont". It's just a name. NUMMI is Toyota. We make Toyotas. CEOs are all Toyota folks. We use TPS. NUMMI is Toyota.

LIE: GM and UAW is one in the same.
This is a red herring used to divert attention away Toyota's responsibility. The UAW has been making concessions for decades now. When the UAW took over the responsibility of running the VEBA trust to pay for the GM retiree health benefits, it was just another concession out of many.

It was a concession. Instead of taking 100% cash to pay for the retiree health benefits, the UAW took some funds in the form of worthless GM stock. So through their VEBA trust, the UAW owns shares of GM. To say that the UAW is now part of management is misleading as the UAW needs a majority in the board of directors to sway their decisions which is not the case as they only have one person appointed to the GM board.

With regards to NUMMI, this is a lie because it come from "company activists" posing as union people. It is directed at the current Local 2244 political party that is in power, the "United Alliance". The United Alliance is an outgrowth of the New Directions Movement which is against "jointness". They did their best to counter that at NUMMI. In a "Barking Dog" newsletter by Caroline Lund, she reported that some top management was overheard saying, "we're f----d now" after the United Alliance won the majority of elected positions. It's people like Sergio Sanchez, Javier Contreras and others in the United Alliance that was trying to change things for the better.

The old "Administration Caucus" were the good ole boys/yes men of the UAW headquarters who went with anything GM told them. After they lost a major election, they started recruiting folks back into their failed party. In doing so, they got people who were explicitly Republican like Juan Castillo onto their side and management supported them. Note the fact that James Potts, the head of Finance at NUMMI (Mr Potts) posts on autoworkersnews.com. Note that Maria Gregg has said to KTVU that "Toyota pays my salary". These are all company people promoting Toyota's excuses. The main one being diverting attention to GM and away from Toyota.

It's not the United Alliance that is at one with GM management. It's Juan Castillo, Maria Gregg, Deniese Alejandro and their cohorts, now called "independents" and the "Autoworkers Caucus", who are closely working with management in a union busting capacity. Those are the real companymen.

LIE: NUMMI never turned a profit.
First, NUMMI is privately held, so they don't have to open up their books. No one know their profits. But this is a matter of common sense. They want you to believe that Toyota put up with a loss for 25 years. How can anyone operate a business at a loss for 25 years? Instead, NUMMI has been VERY successful making billions over the course of 25 years. If it was operating at a loss they would've shut it down when their "probationary period" ended after 12 years, but NUMMI fought to keep it open after that. NUMMI was and is successful making reliable and best selling vehicles right from the start.

LIE: $75/hr.
They are deliberately confusing labor costs with wages. They add the benefits AND the payments to retirees to wages of people who are currently working and they are calling that your "wage". That is a lie.

How much you are making is shown on your 1040 and that can't be disputed. Payments to other people who are retired are not on your 1040.

LIE : Easy Jobs.
Working on an auto assembly line is brutal. You perform thousands of operations a day and you have to do it all over the next day. It's VERY difficult work. The "easy" jobs are not even that easy. Like in QC, you still have to pay attention and know what to look for. These "easy jobs" are for high senority workers. They have all paid their dues with injuries working for years on the line. Nothing is easy in an auto plant.

LIE: NUMMI was an experiment and everyone learned what they needed to learn so its time to move on.
It was an experiment for the 1st year. After much success, NUMMI made lots of money for Toyota. GM learned how to produce quality. Toyota learned how to union bust, the GM way.

LIE: UAW caused NUMMI failure. "UAW killed the goose that laid the golden egg."
No. Toyota is closing NUMMI to get rid of their only union plant so they can lower wages at their other plants.

LIE: High California costs.
Note that there are no numbers given. Labor costs of $500 million at NUMMI is the highest cost. Nothing comes close. Toyota is closing NUMMI to lower labor costs (wages) at all their plants and "California costs" is just another one of their excuses.

LIE: Lazy autoworkers.
Best selling car of all time is a Corolla. Corolla #1 in sales during "Cash for Clunkers". NUMMI ramped up their new Corolla model production faster than Ontario. NUMMI has consistently posted the lowest defects of all Toyota plants. Trucks even achieved a ZERO defect during an internal audit which is unheard of even for Toyota. Lazy? Actually, workers at NUMMI are very hard working and very competent.

LIE: Unskilled Labor.
All labor is skilled. It takes skill to do repetitive tasks accurately day in and day out. It takes motivation to come into work everyday. One has to be physically able to do the difficult work and that work needs to be compensated. People can't just be hired off the street and expect to be successful at NUMMI. calling labor "unskilled" is another excuse to pay you less money.

LIE : Above market rate wages.
At NUMMI we make about $65k and up to $75k with overtime. This is a Bay Area median income. We are actually getting market rate wages. It's the greedy shareholders trying to lower wages and keep more of the money for themselves who are spreading that lie. If one makes below our wages and benefits, they are making below market rate wages and THEY are the ones who need to step up and form a union and get themselves a collective bargaining contract to raise their wages.

LIE: Using FMLA to be lazy and have fun.
FMLA is a right that you and I need. If one of our family members needs care, we need to be there for them. We can't sacrifice our family for the sake of the company. People have legitimate reasons for going on FMLA.

LIE: Faking injuries.
That's BS. Most people that have worked on the line will suffer an injury at some point. It's brutal work.

LIE: No unions needed because we already have good laws.
And how does that work? There has been a steady loss of union membership over the last 30 years. At the same time, median income has stagnated while the top 1% income earners have skyrocketed. We need unions more than ever to keep money flowing to working people.

Laws right now are being passed that protect corporations. Like the recent Supreme Court decision to allow corporations unlimited campaign funding. This corrupts politicians and judges. the end result is more money flowing to the top 1% in the U.S.

LIE: Management and union working together is a good thing.
False. Management will not waver in trying to extract as much of the revenues for themselves. We, as a union, need to fight against that or we will be making concessions all the way to a plant closing. Any concessions made recently help save NUMMI? Did giving up Blue Shield save NUMMI? Did our double points for Mondays and Fridays save NUMMI? Did our furloughed Fridays save NUMMI?

LIE: NUMMI never went on strike.
The A.C. supporter expresses horror that former Chairman Richard Aguilar led us to walk out at the expiration of our contract in 1994. New people may not know why this strike was called. The Bargaining Committee walked us out because the Company was demanding: 1) a 10-hour workday with no overtime over 8 hours; 2) double points against us for absences on Fridays or Mondays; 3) in order to go to the bathroom during work time, you would need a doctor's note.
-- May 20, 2002, Caroline Lund’s Barking Dog
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/45.html


Beware: Multi-Level Marketing Business Opportunities Abound at NUMMI

You may have seen flyer and pamphlets promising you a great business opportunity. Keep in mind that if they want you to spend money, it’s probably a multi-level marketing company. MLM organizations are structured in a way that makes it impossible for 99% of the people to make any money. Only the top 1% make money. The top 1% makes money off the sales of their products to the lower 99%. The bottom 99% must lose so the top 1% can win. That's how it works and you can't get around it. It's legal, but it's also a scam. It's not a legitimate business. Avoid it at all costs.

Off The Cuff Conversatin’ With The Real Mother Muckraker

Muckraker (muck'-ray-ker) - A muckraker seeks to expose corruption of businesses or government to the public. The term originates with writers of the Progressive movement (early 1900s) within the United States who wanted to expose corruption and scandals in government and business. Muckrakers often wrote about the wretchedness of urban life and poverty, and against the established institutions of society, such as big business.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckraker

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." -William Faulkner




SOM (Son of a Muckraker): I just wanna say right away, momma, that its been an honor and a privilege working at NUMMI as rank and file UAW. The day I popped outta yo womb, you dropped some real knowledge into my brain with your “Barking Dog” newsletters. You got me learnt so I don’t get burnt. You be spittin’ it while the opposition, if they be admittin’ it… that they be s-----n’ it. Thank you momma , I love you.

Now that they’re shuttin’ down the plant. Here come the lies. The one I’ve heard over and over is that NUMMI has never had a strike. Is that true?

Momma (Caroline Lund):
The A.C. supporter expresses horror that former Chairman Richard Aguilar led us to walk out at the expiration of our contract in 1994. New people may not know why this strike was called. The Bargaining Committee walked us out because the Company was demanding: 1) a 10-hour workday with no overtime over 8 hours; 2) double points against us for absences on Fridays or Mondays; 3) in order to go to the bathroom during work time, you would need a doctor's note.
-- May 20, 2002
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/45.html

SOM: It seems the company got 1 out of the 3 since then.

Momma: The walkout was called by the entire Bargaining Committee, including members of both caucuses. It only lasted 45 minutes, because our show of unity caused the Company to capitulate. Once a union lets the Company know it is afraid to strike or against strikes, the union is finished. Our legal right to withhold our labor is the one real threat and power that the Company understands.

The Administration Caucus supporter (who doesn't have the guts to sign his/her name) says in the flyer, "They [myself and the United Alliance] don't know how to negotiate because they come from the old school General Motor days and you know what happened to General Motors Plant."

This is your standard fear-mongering about the plant shutting down, which the Company does all the time to get their way. Our union leaders have become little lap-dogs of the Company, echoing Company threats to shut down, to get us to shut up with any complaints.

New people, talk to the old-timers about the union in GM days. They will all tell you how the union was stronger back then, not weaker.
-- May 20, 2002
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/45.html


SOM: I think so too. I heard the old GM in Fremont filed the most grievances of all GM plants. Nowadays, they not only not file grievances, but some committeemen subject team members to a kangaroo court where the outcome has been predetermined. I think it was a mistake on the leadership’s part to make ANY concessions. Too many folks believe that the plant will stay open if only they will work harder, go to the bathroom less, give up Blue Shield, not fight the double points. But what now? The plant is closing and it had nothing to do with anything we gave up. The little we gave up only made management a little bolder the next time they wanted more concessions. Management only wants more and more out of us workers. I think management is there to enrich themselves at our expense… what do you think, momma?

Momma:the companies we are up against are ever more ruthless in their dog-eat-dog competition. Anyone who thinks NUMMI is an exception is really naïve, or on the take. The Enron revelations have shown us what happens behind the closed doors of the corporate world: Collusion between CEOs, attorneys, auditors and politicians to enrich the rich and screw the average working person.

Toyota is building a new truck plant in Mexico. It will dump NUMMI in the blink of an eye if it thinks it can make more profits elsewhere.
--Jan. 22, 2002
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/43.html

SOM: Yeah, you told us so, but no one listened. It’s all about profits. Those safety absolutes were just words. There ain’t no real trust and respect.

Momma: We need union members and leaders who are clear-eyed about corporate ruthlessness. Who don't fall for intimidation or flattery by management. Who think for themselves and don't just go along with what the International Union tells them to do. Who value democratic involvement of the membership.
Who aren't lazy. Who care most about the welfare of the membership, not about their own career. Let's look around us, find people like that, and put them forward to help us fight for the soul of our union.
--Jan. 22, 2002
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/43.html

SOM: I’m just wondering if any of them had what it took; and if there were, I’m wondering if there were enough of them. Like in the Labor Relations office, you ever notice how some committeemen and Labor Relations folks are getting’ a little too cozy…. eatin’ sushi together… using each others computers and just plain actin’ shady? I just imagine the Labor Relations folks gradually corrupting them one by one with their little acts of kindness til they succumbed to their seductive advances. Then, all of a sudden you have union folks speaking to TM’s on behalf of the company telling TM’s “we” this and “we” that. You know how you can tell the committeeman has been corrupted? Just close your eyes and hear the guy speak. If he sounds like a Labor Relations guy, you know he’s been turned. And I note the fact that it was not the company that sued you, but the members of the Administration Caucus who are management friendly who tried to shut you up. What did your lawyer tell ‘em?

Momma’s lawyer: “Given the nature of this dispute, it is extremely unfortunate that your clients have decided to threaten Ms. Lund with legal action instead of addressing the positions taken in The Barking Dog on their merits.

Furthermore, it is clear from the tone of your letter that you, on their behalf, are attempting to intimidate Ms. Lund from voicing her opinions regarding the current union administration. Ultimately, this type of bullying only weakens the union and drains the resources of its members.

However, notwithstanding the weakness of your position, Ms. Lund is interested in negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution to the issues discussed above. In particular, she is interested in ensuring that The Barking Dog is as accurate as possible.

Accordingly, if Mr. Torres states in writing that he had no involvement in the anonymous flyer, Ms. Lund will issue an apology for erroneously attributing authorship to him. (Your letter is mysteriously silent as to whether Mr. Torres actually authored the anonymous flyer.)

If, however, this proposed resolution is unacceptable to your clients, and you proceed with formal litigation against Ms. Lund, please be advised that we will respond with a motion to dismiss under California's Anti-SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. As you are aware, if we are successful in that motion, your clients will be required by law to pay Ms. Lund's attorneys' fees.

I look forward to hearing from you.”
April 30, 2000
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog24.html

SOM: Right on. That shut ‘em up good. I noticed that the lawyers you used was SIEGEL & YEE in Oakland which brings this to mind. If there’s some sort of legal action against the company, people should not sign the “General Release” for the retention package until they consult with a lawyer. If you sign it, you lose the right to sue the company. I think we all have til what…. Aug. 1st? The paperwork should state how long you have.

Anyways, I know we didn’t have much time to talk. Maybe we can continue this again, but we are running out of time & room on dis paper. So little time, so much great wisdom from you. Again, I’d like to thank you momma for your advice over the years and if anybody wants to read about what you were telling us back in the day, they can go to this German site where they put up a few of your “Barking Dogs”. WHO LET DA DOGS OUT!! ARF ARF ARF ARF!!! Later momma, Love you.


The Barking Dog 1999-2003
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/auto/gm-opel/bdog/index.html


Caroline Lund-Sheppard : NUMMI rank and file TM worked on the line
9/24/44 - 10/14/2006
http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-10-27/news/17317611_1_barking-nummi-production-worker

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ABM and Premier Workers Demand Severance Pay !

A.B.M. FACTS
·Publicly Held Corporation
·2009 Revenues:$3.5 Billion
·Cash on 1/31/10:$21,177,000
·Employees in NUMMI:~60 full-time, ~25 part-time











After ABM workers gave their severance proposal to ABM management, management told them they won’t pay them any severance because “they’ve been paid well over the years and they should’ve saved their money”.What kind of reasoning is that? That is downright disrespectful!

ABM is over 100 years old. As of 1/13/10, ABM has a little over $21 million in cash. ABM workers are only asking for 1 weeks worth of severance for every year they have worked making ABM successful. A small percentage (much less than what they pay in taxes) of their cash can pay the severance for the laid-off ABM employees at NUMMI.ABM still has 10s of thousands of employees throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico who will make ABMa good profit in the coming years.Paying a few dozen laid-off workers a one-time severance check is nothing when you have $21 million in cash.They deserve it for making ABM successful. ABM workers have always done a great job cleaning up stuff that no one wants to do. They clean up chemical spills to keep us safe.They sweep up.They empty out the garbage.Our $100,000 bathrooms are clean and look great even after some of us defecate all over the toilet.They do a great job which contributes to ABM’s huge success. ABM workers deserve a decent severance check.


Premier Manufacturing Support Services FACTS
* Privately Held Corporation
* 2005: Voith, a German company, acquired Premier
* NUMMI was their 1st big account
* Over 3500 employees worldwide
* Employees at NUMMI: 43 full-time, 12 temp.











How did Premier get started?
http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2001/01/08/story1.html
One of the firm's early clients was the joint venture between General Motors and Toyota in California known as NUMMI. Premier got the job to clean the NUMMI paint shop and built upon that niche to provide support services for other automotive companies.

"We were really fortunate to pick a customer like NUMMI,'' he said. "We got entree to both GM and Toyota, we got a window from a good teacher, and we got the credibility of a strong customer reference."


Having NUMMI as Premier’s 1st major account allowed Premier to piggyback off NUMMI’s reputation. Having NUMMI as a customer gave Premier a strong reference when Premier
pitched their services to prospective clients.If it wasn’t for their NUMMI account, they might not have been as successful today.NUMMI opened the doors for Premier.Premier's success is built upon these workers at NUMMI; and for that, Local 76’s workers should be rewarded.


Premier workers work in Truck Paint, Plastics and South Paint Shop.They not only clean the paint booths, but offer support services that help us run. They have done their job to make Premier and NUMMI successful. Now, Premier should do their job and reward them with 1 week of severance pay for every year they’ve worked.Like the ABM workers, they are not asking for a huge amount of money. They just want severance pay to help soften the devastating effects of this layoff during the worst employment outlook since the Great Depression. The rest of Premier and the parent company, Voith, is still doing very well. They can afford it.

One of the guys you see in the pics helped demonstrate in front of Toyota dealerships with Local 2244 to put pressure on Toyota.That helped raise our meager retention check a little higher. They helped us, now we have to help them out.Stand there with them if you have the time (approx. 3:00p-4:30p). Honk your horn loudly when you drive by. If you see Victor Quesada, their International Rep (and ours too), you need to ask him what’s up with Local 76’s severance pay to put pressure on him to take action(VICTOR!! HELLO!!?? YOU LISTENING!!!!???? WAZZUP WIT LOCAL 76’s SEVERANCE PAY!!?? WHERE ARE YOU?? YOU NEEDS TO STEP UP!!!) Some people from UAW Local 76 are wondering why won’t Victor speak up. Where’s the urgency? Why so silent? You can't just use up people for your own success and then throw them away with no financial recognition for their contributions to your success. That’s to Premier, ABM, as well as certain union reps that need to do their job. Don’t be selfish like these corporations. We got ours. ABM and Premier workers needs theirs too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What’s the real reason for closing NUMMI?

From: MM5

There was a memo by Seiichi Sudo, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing in North America (TEMA), that was leaked out at Toyota's Kentucky plant. The memo was written around 2006 with a 5 year timeline (2006-2011) outlining a plan to reduce wages.

From:
http://www.onthelinenews.com/Newsletter/070901-Sept/01-news-Sept07-01.htm

is developing strategies which will reduce labor costs by $300 million by fiscal 2011.” That’s according to a “Self-Reliance Plan,

Headcount and Rate (Wages and Benefits). Our strategy moving forward is to base our hourly wages more closely with the state manufacturing wages where each plant is located, and not tie ourselves so closely to the U.S. auto industry, or other competitors,


Why was $300 million chosen? Why not $400 million? Why not $500 million? If you assume average NUMMI earnings of $65k x 4500 team members, you have $292.5 million or $300 million rounded up. Was the $300 million a veiled reference to NUMMI wages?

And what does he mean when he says to not tie themselves "so closely to the U.S. auto industry, or other competitors"? Is that another reference to NUMMI where the other half of the plant is owned by their competitor, GM?

Exactly how Toyota plans on reducing their labor costs by $300 million was only a matter of conjecture by the UAW back in 2007. They offered a few guesses in the article referenced. But then, the 2008 economic collapse lowered demand which gave Toyota the impetus and justification to close NUMMI which they had planned since at least 2006.

Toyota's wages at their non-union plants are pegged to UAW rates to keep their employees from voting in the UAW. Toyota has successfully thwarted attempts to unionize at Kentucky and Ontario mainly due to their comparable wages. The wages at non-union Toyota plants aren't set to the Big 3. They are set to what we negotiated here at NUMMI, Toyota's only UAW plant. With the UAW out of the way, there's nothing to stop Toyota from accelerating their wage cuts. With the closing of NUMMI, Toyota has achieved their goal of lowering labor costs by $300 million by 2011 and removing the UAW obstacle in one fell swoop. The closing of NUMMI is not a matter of reacting to circumstances, but part of Toyota's long-term plan to get rid of their only union plant so they can lower wages in N. America and keep their profits high. The NUMMI plant closing is a union busting event.

Who Are The Owners of Toyota?

From: MM5


Top 10 shareholders
(As of March 31, 2009): # of shares:

1) Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd. 353,082
2) Toyota Industries Corporation 201,195
3) The Master Trust Bank of Japan, Ltd. 192,363
4) Nippon Life Insurance Company 130,791
5) State Street Bank and Trust Company 119,887
6) The Bank of New York Mellon 85,071
7) Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd. 84,527
8) Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. 83,821
9) Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co, Ltd. 65,166
10) JP Morgan Chase Bank 60,854
http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/ir/stock/outline.html




The owners of Toyota are mainly financial institutions that only care about profits. For every dollar less they pay you, they get one more dollar in their pocket. Labor costs are the highest cost component. Your wages are the most expensive component. If they can lower that, they get to post up a higher profit.



Revenues (money coming in from sales of cars)
Less: Costs (Wages for example)
Equals: Profits

Revenue – Costs = Profit


When demand for cars is expected to decline, revenues is also expected to decline and profits will also decline. To keep profits up, greedy corporations like banker-owned Toyota will seek to lower wages. In this case, NUMMI’s UAW represented workforce is an obstacle to Toyota lowering wages. Removing the workers’ power to negotiate a wage allows Toyota to set whatever wages they want.

If Toyota saves an average of $100 million per plant by lowering wages in 6 plants, they have saved $600 million which represents $600 million more posted up as profit. Over a number of years, the money that goes into the coffers of Toyota will amount to billions of dollars. That’s billions of dollars that is no longer earned by workers. That’s billions of dollars not being spent back into the U.S. economy. That’s less money for housing, health care and education. You get screwed over as well as your future generations

Union Dues - Good Investment

From: MM4

There are still a few people who gripe about paying union dues. Union dues pay for many things that allow you to have an income that's very close to the median income here in the Bay Area. The money is used for office staff, rent, utilities, plane fare and whatever else that the dealmakers need to negotiate the best deal for us. The money also pays for lobbying efforts in our nation's capitol to push for labor friendly laws that put more money into our hands. We get more in return than what we pay. So what's our return on investment with our ~$62/month?

In Japan, Toyota employees have a "company union" with people appointed by the company. They don't have to pay dues. That's not even a real union. Full-time permanent employees make $20.49/hr. (as of 4/24/08) Their temps make $12.13/hr.
http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=562

We make $28/hr permanent and $20/hr as a temp. Assuming a 40 hr. workweek, we make ~$4480/mo. pre-tax (@160hrs/month) with a bargaining agreement. In Japan, they make ~$3278 with no bargaining agreement. The difference is $1202 per month for permanent employees.

Pay: $62
Get: $1202

You got a problem with that?

Now, I'm hearing rumors that the union may be taking a small percentage (1-2%) of our "retention package". So? That's a good thing. They are working in a concerted effort to negotiate a good deal for us and they need to pay for operating costs as well as their negotiating skills. If there was no one to negotiate a deal for us, what do you think the stingy company will pay? Same as our wages, they will pay a lot less than whatever puny percentage we will pay the union. If we didn't have anyone negotiating our deal, the company will just pay us 50% less than they could, maybe less. And to further put this in its proper perspective, that small percentage to the union is much less than what the government will be taking in taxes. Money paid to the union is our power and privilege. Money to the union results in more money back. It's a good investment. It's a bargain.

$1,000,000 Severance Pay

From: MM4

At an average yearly pay conservatively estimated at $60,000 and working for 10 years, you have $600,000. If you work at NUMMI for 20 years, it's $1.2 million. If you take into account an increasing pay after every contract negotiation, health insurance paid for, the 25% matching for the 1st 6% for our 401k; you would have made over $2 million in pre-tax income during those 20 years. So simply being consistent with the "concession bargaining style" of our UAW leadership, we should compromise a bit and only ask for a flat $1 million severance pay per union employee plus 1 quality built Corolla or Tacoma with all the options. But where will the money come from? 3764 WARN (The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notices were sent to NUMMI workers for their layoff. At $1 mil per worker, that comes out to $3.8 Billion. But even with the company's measly $164 mil. proposal, they claim they have to find a "funding source". So, there's no
way Toyota can pay that, or is there a way?

Excerpt from "Toyota Suspends Sales of Key Models" 1/27/10:
http://torontostar.morningstar.ca/globalhome/industry/news.asp?articleid=323751

The firm's balance sheet is fortress-like. At September 30 Toyota had over JPY 3.5 trillion (about $39.4 billion) of cash including its financing arm. Toyota only discloses financial statements excluding the financing arm at its March year-end. On March 31, 2009 Toyota reported cash excluding the financing arm of over JPY 2.1 trillion (about $23.8 billion) and long-term debt excluding the financing arm of about JPY 850.2 billion ($9.5 billion). At the consolidated level, Toyota reported unused short-term and long-term credit lines of about JPY 6.6 trillion, or $73.7 billion. We think this incredibly strong liquidity position allows Toyota to withstand a quality problem of this severity. We will not change our fair value and investment thesis unless we believe Toyota's long-term ability to sell vehicles is impaired.



So what's the problem with a "funding source"? With a little less than 10% of Toyota's cash reserves, they can pay each of us a $1,000,000 severance pay. If they want to borrow money to do it, they have a $73 Billion dollar line of credit at their disposal. With such "incredibly strong liquidity", paying $3.8 billion will not change Toyota's "fortress-like balance sheet" nor will it impair their "long-term ability to sell vehicles." In 2007, Toyota made $14 Billion in profits alone!! We will just settle for a million each. Now, I know the executives’ faces will turn beet red and respond with a collective, "THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!!"

No. Lemme tell YOU what's outrageous. It's outrageous that you are shutting down NUMMI after we built the cars and trucks with the lowest defects of all Toyota plants. It's outrageous that you decided to pull the plug on your California plant when 1 in 4 of your cars are sold here. It's outrageous that you're closing NUMMI when the Corolla was the best selling car during "Cash For Clunkers" and the best selling car of all time. It's outrageous that we will be laid off when unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression. Many of us will have a very hard time finding a job. Our current incomes will not be replaced; and our obligations, whether they be our kids' educations, health care, or mortgages will not be met. Now THAT is outrageous. But with a $1 million severance package (plus 1 quality build car or truck), you can show some goodwill and help mitigate the devastating effects of this plant closure on us and California’s economy.

If TEMA Audit - ZERO Defects Please

From: MM4

It was announced Friday there was a TEMA audit this week. Why isn't this mentioned in the NUMMI News? Why the last minute lackadaisical attitude towards a TEMA audit from management? It just seems different from last time.

We need ZERO defects from Trucks and Passenger for a couple reasons:

1) Leverage in negotiations.

They can't pay us less than the going rate for severance pay if our score beats all the other plants like last time. Whether negotiating for a better "retention"/severance package or pressuring Toyota to keep this plant open, posting up the lowest defects of all Toyota plants gives us more to bargain with. Zero defects increases our value. We need to show them that they are shutting down their best plant which is a bad decision.


2) Show public what a unionized plant can do.

The "labor management consultants" in the U.S. like to spread false propaganda that union employees are "lazy", "unproductive", "poor quality". Public opinion towards union members is at an all time low. And to raise the dung heap ever higher, those union busting videos of our Local 2244 taken recently by those "scab-enabling-turncoats-disguised-as-union-workers" certainly does not help. If we post another lowest DPV we can tell people that say crap about us that it just ain't so because, "....management set the goal of .20 DPV last time and we beat it by 75%. with ZERO defects for Trucks and .10 DPV for Passenger. Better than Japan with UAW labor made in California!" Now what? They won't be sayin' nothing because you are all-that and they are wrong.

So let's keep the managers and GL's in check and make sure they are showing up everyday, doing their jobs and not slacking off. Trucks got ZERO DPV last time and Trucks can do it again. Passenger got .10 DPV last time. If Trucks can get Zero DPV, then so can Passenger. Let's earn those cans of Coke and a danish again. We can do it! SI SE PUEDE!!