The recently-crowned king of the United Auto Workers, President Bob King, has a monumental task before him: reverse the decades-long decline in UAW membership. To do that the UAW will likely need to make inroads at transplant automaker plants, and to accomplish this goal King promises to be more active in staging demonstrations than in the past, and an early target is Toyota and California. Automotive Newsreports that the UAW is organizing protests in front of several Toyota dealerships in the Golden State to draw attention to the recently closed NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA.
The facility, which was making the Toyota Corolla and Matrix until it was shuttered in April, was the only unionized facility producing Toyotas in North America. The closing of NUMMI, which happened in part because General Motors pulled out of its agreement with Toyota during its bankruptcy in 2009, left thousands of UAW workers without a job. Toyota has since sold the NUMMI facility to Tesla Motors, who will utilize only a portion of the plant and hire around 1,000 workers. Toyota did spring for a considerable severance packageof nearly $300 million for the laid-off workers when the plant closed.
Of course the group most upset about the upcoming protests is the American International Automobile Dealers Association. AIADA president Cody Lusk claims that the protests will only hurt small businesses that supply plenty of American jobs, adding
“An assault on America’s auto retail industry will only serve to highlight the disconnect between the UAW and reality.”