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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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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:

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

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.

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