Apr 18, 2008

Toyota subsidiary cuts jobs in Long Beach

Yuri Kageyama of the Associated Press reported early this morning that Toyota will stop building Hino trucks at its TABC Inc., plant in Long Beach, Calif. Production will be be moved to Hino's other U.S. plant in West Virginia by July, according to a statement by Hino spokesman Hidenobu Tezuka.

That plant will continue to make parts for Toyota. Hino's annual production capacity in North America will be reduced to 4,500 trucks a year from 9,500. Hino's North American sales for the last fiscal year dropped 19 percent to about 6,600 trucks from 8,200 trucks the previous year, according to the AP story. The drop is blamed on high fuel prices and a slow economy. Hino is 50.11 percent owned by Toyota.

Toyota watchers looking for the company to make a misstep that violates its much-studied principles will ask, “What about the workers?” Kristopher Hanson, Long Beach Press-Telegram writer, says the company is offering buyouts to employees with 10 or more years of experience, with as many as 100 accepted. The reports also don’t say how many jobs are being cut, and whether there are enough contingency workers to make up the difference. Will full-time associates be let go, and how will the company help them?

Hanson reports that Louie Diaz, a TABC employee and vice president of Teamsters Local 848TABC workers said they were given a deadline of today to consider the buyout offer, (Hanson doesn’t say when employees were told about it) but that deadline may be extended. The Teamsters represent more than 500 workers at the site.

"It's an unfortunate situation where the company is taking good jobs from Long Beach and sending them off to facilities all over the place in other states," Diaz told Hanson. "We're very concerned."

As noted, the plant doesn’t have all its eggs in the Hino basket. The plant will continue to make other parts, so some workers will stay.

Elsewhere, Harley-Davidson announced it is cutting 370 unionized and 360 nonproduction workers from the payroll. Sales of the bikes are down in the U.S. and, although they are growing overseas, prospects don’t look promising. Some have speculated that Harley is limiting production to maintain its scarcity factor in marketing. Though Harley is among the best in lean production, it evidently likes long lead times between itself and its dealers’ order dates. Hey – it maintains the mystique that attracts buyers, so it’s a legitimate business strategy. Won’t make the workers, mostly in York, Pa., any happier, though.


Mark Graban said...

So is a "buyout" a layoff? I'd say so. Sounds like this ends Toyota's 50+ year streak of no layoffs... or has that always been corporate urban legend?

Now if sales have dropped... that's one thing, different than just moving the production to someplace with cheaper labor. Toyota's had the luxury of growth... it's easier to NOT layoff people when you're growing, compared to being GM.

Mike Gardner said...

That could be just urban legend, Mark, but remember this is Hino, not Toyota-prime. It is widely believed that the company featured in the anti-Toyota book "Notes From Toyota-Land" was Hino, and layoffs were part of that story, too.

Hino Trucks said...

I hope it was just urban legend, Buyout sounds like like a thinky disguised lay off to me.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen I worked there for 15.7 yrs.I took a buyout pkg and got the hell out of there.They uprooted some of the old stamping presses in mid 2007.Tema has full control of TABC now it came in approx august 2006.With that they stopped Hino truck production, sent it to West Virginia.in 2003 we were sad to see our last tacoma truck bed come off the assembly line.which are now in Baja Mexico on a 750acre plant.I opened up my own cybercafe.
with the money they gave me.My hearing from the constant drumming of the machines left me with a hearing aid.The buyout packages to this date are still being offered.
And no nobody swisted my arm to leave.I signed my departure.
I do miss my teamster brothers and sisters.I was a stamping leadman.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, and sorry it was a hard one for you. Stamping is one of the most under-appreciated processes for the knowledge and experience it takes to do well, and all the work of the leads and operators deserves a lot of respect. The stamping guys who go back a while almost always have hearing loss -- a shame that safety protection wasn't a priority all along.

Hope your new career is working out for you.

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