NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission, chaired by IRLE Faculty Affiliate Harley Shaiken, releases a new white paper on the planned closure of the automobile plant

March 10, 2009

IRLE Affiliated Faculty member Harley Shaiken is chairing the Toyota NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission, which was convened by California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. Prof. Shaiken has studied workforce and union issues for many years, and is recognized as one of the leading experts on the U.S. automobile industry.

The Blue Ribbon Commission brings together heads of community agencies, policy makers and individuals with a keen interest in preserving Toyota's manufacturing presence within California (see membership below). As part of his responsibilities as Chair, Prof. Shaiken published a comprehensive analysis of the social and economic impact of a potential closure of NUMMI. The report frames the policy issues surrounding such a closure as well as the history of NUMMI and its contributions to the California economy.

Auto Manufacturing Plant

Toyota's proposal to close the plant comes during a period when state unemployment levels have reached 12.4 percent (December 2009). The closure will idle 4,700 workers, and also cause ripple effects that could lead to far more layoffs over time.

"NUMMI is a very competitive auto plant today," Prof. Shaiken said. "It has high productivity and award-winning quality levels. More importantly, it could become even more competitive in the future if it starts producing hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles." Professor Shaiken also finds evidence for the viability of a "California clean transportation cluster," centered on NUMMI and expanding along the San Francisco East Bay's "green corridor.

Given the potential long term benefits, Prof. Shaiken sees many advantages for both Toyota and California if NUMMI stays in operation. The plant's workforce is by far its most valuable asset, and so continuity in operations is crucial for its continued success. Average employee tenure on the job is 13.5 years. The plant builds the Toyota Corolla, the second best selling car in the U.S. in 2009, as well as the compact Tacoma light truck.

The Blue Ribbon Commission's work will be ongoing. News and information will be reported on the state treasurer's Web site and also on the IRLE Web.

The white paper is published in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment's Working Paper Series and may be downloaded from the IRLE Web.

To download the full report, go to:
http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/202-10.pdf

Members of the Toyota NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission

Professor Harley Shaiken (chair), University of California, Berkeley
Ellen M. Corbett, California State Senator, District 10
Danny Glover, Actor
Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor, District 1
Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California
Bruce Kern, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance
Nina Moore, Fremont Chamber of Commerce
Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, California Federation of Labor
Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Victor Uno, President, Port of Oakland Commission
Bob Wasserman, Mayor of Fremont