Marquell Cradocks outside Toyota dealership

Marquell Cradocks stood outside the Toyota dealership on Shattuck Avenue Monday afternoon, handing out green leaflets telling the car maker to “Get Lost!”

Cradocks and other people associated with the United Auto Workers have been protesting outside the Toyota dealership on Shattuck Avenue for the last month, trying to draw attention – and outrage – to Toyota’s decision to close the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont on April 1.

About 4,700 workers will lose their job when the plant shuts down, and another 20,000 around the state will be affected. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has said the closure could cost the state about $2.3 billion.

Cradocks, a Toyota protest coordinator for the UAW, said the huge sign outside the dealership is meant to provoke dealers into calling the Toyota corporation to complain that the plant closure is giving the company a bad name.

You may ask how Toyota’s reputation could get any worse after the recall and news about out-of-control acceleration problems.

Cradocks points out that the NUMMI workers make Corollas and Tacomas, and neither of those cars have been associated with problems. That shows that the Fremont plant is operating at a high level. It doesn’t look good that Toyota is shutting a plant that produces 500 good-quality cars a day, while leaving open others that are producing faulty cars, said Craddocks.

The UAW has large signs reading “Toyota: Killing California Jobs,” outside dealerships in Hayward, Colma, Davis and elsewhere.

“The new, reckless Toyota is endangering our environment as well as California motorists, workers, and our communities,” the flyer reads.

Update: Bob Herbert has an excellent editorial in today’s New York Times pointing out the cravenness of Toyota’s decision. He points out that Californian buy more Priuses than anyone else and that the region has offered the company millions of dollars in incentives over the years. In fact, 12 years ago the Port of Oakland spent $410 million to dredge the port so a certain type of ship that Toyota required could come into the bay.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. GM has nothing to do with Toyota closing the plant. When the Vibe was produced at NUMMI, it only accounted for 10-15% of production. The Vibe is just a Toyota Matrix rebadged as a GM car. Now, with GM out, it’s all Toyotas and NUMMI is working overtime making Corollas and Tacomas to meet demand.

    The NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission report proves the 4 main reasons given by Toyota for closing NUMMI as false:

    The real reason for the closing of NUMMI is that Toyota wants to shut down their only union plant. That way, they won’t have to peg their wages at their other plants to NUMMI. With NUMMI’s UAW represented workforce out of the way, Toyota will be free to lower wages at their other plants.

  2. i empathize with anyone who’s lost their job, but as a full-time cyclist i could care less about toyota or any auto manufacturer. they’ve done this country more harm than good and i’m glad to see them go.

    i cycle past these protesters daily and ignore them. again, on a human level i do care about those who lost their income.

  3. Whoa, GM pulled out of NUMMI first. NUMMI’s whole point was to have GM and UAW learn how to make cars efficiently in the Toyota Way. What need does Toyota have to keep an UAW factory in CA? Did GM pay $250M to the workers for relocation? No. Toyota doesn’t do business for charity. These workers are pointing their guns at the wrong company.

    No wonder Toyota is letting go of NUMMI. They would probably have kept it if the workers had a little more sense.

  4. Toyota’s Matrix and Pontiac Vibe were recalled and manufactured at NUMMI. get the facts right Cradock, oh, and what about Toyota being able to increase productivity by 40% after Toyota took over full operations. I don’t blame Toyota for leaving a UAW controlled facility.

    UAW was a good idea, now they are to greedy, they wouldn’t back down to help american companies compete. They’ve driven production to other countries, right now when need to be producing more. They had a chance, they blew it. Good going UAW.

  5. If you’re going to protest a car company’s role in the shut-down of NUMMI, you should be standing in front of GM dealerships. It’s GM that walked away from the partnership, leaving Toyota holding the bag. Toyota walking away from the plant was inevitable after that.

    Why does the article fail to even mention GM’s role in the closure?

  6. The UAW is wholly responsible for the collapse of the automotive industry in this country. Let’s not forget the BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of dollars your children will be paying to overcome the greed and poor quality products produced by this union. GMs bankrupcy and pull out of NUMMI is responsible for this plant closure. GM could not wait to get out of NUMMI. Toyota would not close a plant that is profitable. You name me one company that would build products in a plant that was not turning a profit and I will show you a company who’s days are numbered. It is the only Toyota plant on the west coast and it is no longer viable. The job losses in California is something nobody wants, but it is certainly disingenuous for the UAW to throw stones.Perhaps when you pay the government back the billions given to you I will listen, until then the voice of the UAW rings hollow.

  7. As a Toyota fans for about 20 years, I agree that recent Toyota decision isn’t fair to the people. But if you look to their point of views Toyota has already lost its reputation so even if the plant stay its just q matter of time when Toyota going to close the plant. And true some people still believe in Toyota like me but majority aren’t in favor of Toyota. And I already see that happening when people started suing and giving Toyota a hassle. So it almost like Toyota shaving in people face saying that the people started the mess and they going finish it by closing the plant and moving it back to Japan and Canada… but Toyota is not the only major corporation that has move overseas.