Photo Essay: Factory Like A City

Run, don’t walk, to David Bacon’s photo essay, “Factory Like A City”, posted at Z magazine. It’s about Toyota’s announcement of the closing of the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California after General Motors announced it was withdrawing from the partnership. It’s a good illustration of the exponential effects of the demise of manufacturing in the United States. From the essay:

The plant employs 4,500 workers directly, and the jobs of another 30,000 throughout Northern California are dependent on its continued operation. Taking families into account, the threatened closure will eliminate the income of over 100,000 people.

Frankly, I think that’s a conservative estimate. It’s probably based on the immediate results. The long-term effects (absent a replacement plant of similar nature) would be greater—just ask someone from the Rust Belt.

Keep this, and other stories of other soon-to-be or already shuttered plants in mind when reading about corporate bailouts. Those bailouts are not for—and were not meant to be for—the workers. Keep this in mind when you hear the ludicrous phrase, “jobless recovery.”

There is no such thing as a jobless recovery. Not for working people.

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9 comments for “Photo Essay: Factory Like A City

  1. globalist
    September 22, 2009 at 11:36 am

    It is only a loss if you think in US-centric terms. The plant will likely be built elsewhere providing employment to people more in need than already overconsuming Americans.

    • September 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      Globalist, I’m going to assume that you’re largely unaffected by said job losses. Empathize much?

  2. MikeC
    September 22, 2009 at 11:41 am

    The term ‘jobless recovery’ is important and people should use it frequently. It is a challenge to technocrats to distinguish between aggregate improvements in the economy captured by a few and a general improvement shared by many. The term is not a euphemism for anything in the slightest.

  3. September 22, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Globalist, are you serious?

    I don’t deny that people elsewhere do need jobs, and that Americans do overconsume. But if you think that American overconsumption is coming primarily at the hands of blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt, or that just because America as a whole is a wealthy nation it means that each individual in America is wealthy, well…

  4. Melanie
    September 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Well I thought that was the most depressing and frustrating thing I read today. Then I saw the comments…

    Globalist, please. Even if you can’t be swayed by the men and women that will lose their jobs, think of their children and families. Not to mention what 4,500 new unemployed folks will do to the already crappy California economy.

  5. September 22, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    globalist, you left off the other half of your name: global capitalist. There’s a difference.

    See, if you were a curious person, and had actually followed the link, you could have found David Bacon’s website. He is the author of the book “Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants”. Because, if you’re really a “globalist”, that seems like something you’d be interested in, no?

    If we lived in a truly global world, a world without borders, a world where every citizen is a global citizen with the full rights of citizenship throughout the earth, the flow of wealth across borders wouldn’t have the devastating impact that it does. As it is, when communities are left destitute by globalization (which is happening worldwide, not just in the U.S.) there are few alternatives for those left behind.

    Global capitalism has made a precious few individuals wealthy, at the expense of everyone else, as well as the planet we live on. Don’t kid yourself. These plants leave one place for another to operate in places with few to no labor or environmental laws. This has a particular impact on women, who work at the behest of male bosses who require sexual services as a condition of employment, or who fire pregnant workers. For the most part, the people working in outsourced plants don’t earn enough money to purchase the products they produce. At the same time manufacturing jobs are being outsourced, farm products flood the markets of nations too poor to compete in the capitalist economy, bankrupting farmers and displacing yet more people—more people losing their livelihood. That also seems like something a “globalist” would be concerned about, no?

    Riddle me this: why is capital free to roam borders, but workers are not?

  6. CartoonCoyote
    September 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Good thing Katrina happened, eh, globalist? Wiped out a few thousand “already overconsuming Americans”, after all.

    @Site moderators: Would the term “absolute fucking maroon” be over the top for this person?

  7. La Lubu
    September 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    @Site moderators: Would the term “absolute fucking maroon” be over the top for this person?


  8. NummiTM
    September 23, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for your support! Its gonna be tough for the vast majority of us after the plant closes.

    The reasons that Toyota gives for shutting down this plant are not the real reasons. Toyota says they are shutting because of “high California costs” and their “environmental regulations”, “excess capacity”, “transportation costs”. These are multiple red herrings designed to hide their real intent. The real reason for shutting down Nummi is to lower their labor costs in N. America.

    Nummi’s labor cost is approx. $520 million/yr. No other cost comes close.

    In a memo leaked out in Toyota’s Georgetown plant in 2007, the CEO of Toyota N. America wanted to lower labor costs in N. America by $300mil by 2011. This was at a time when Toyota posted record profits in the billions ( I think it was $12 billion in 2007). They were going to do it by hiring more temps at 1/2 the pay and make work rules more stringent which makes it easier to fire permanent employees. They were also planning to peg their top wages to local manufacturing wages which is about 1/2 of what their current top pay is. With the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, Toyota is expected to accelerate their wage cutting campaign. This campaign it starts with closing Nummi as its their only union plant who can negotiate their wages and benefits. With Nummi out of the way, they can more freely lower the wages at their other plants and not have to peg their wages to their union plant.

    Now, to make matters worse, Toyota is now demanding that California pay them $2mil for “training costs” at a time when they will shutter their plant sending thousands into unemployment. It’s also at a time when Toyota, despite a loss of approx. 4.5 billion last year (loss for the first time), they still have $56 billion in CASH according to Forbes as of July 09. It’s like demanding someone pay you .20 cents. when you got $100k in the bank. It’s ridiculous! Toyota is screwing the state of CA over with lower tax dollars coming in from fewer workers making money due to their plant closing ; then to rub salt in the bleeding wound, they have the gall to ask for $2 million. When you’re gettin screwed over, they start asking you to tighten your sphincter some mo for that extra bit of pleasure. Toyota should get nothing!!

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