Thursday, September 24, 2009
Effects of G.M bankruptcy still roiling San Francisco Bay
Did the State of California get the raw end of the deal along with thousands of autoworkers when the Toyota-General Motors joint venture in Fremont shut down last month? That's what a state panel that gave New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. a $2 million training grant in February is investigating, now that the automobile facility is scheduled to close early next year. The acting chairman of the Employment Training Panel, the little-known state agency that awarded the grant, has asked NUMMI to withdraw its request for the money in light of Toyota's announcement in August that the facility would be closing, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. "We would never have approved this if they had told us they were closing this factory in a year," said the acting chairman, Barry Broad, a labor union attorney. But NUMMI and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, which helped train the workers, said the facility deserved the money because the training had been ongoing for months before the decision to close the plant was made. "We were hopeful that (Employment Training Panel) funding, along with other state and local programs, would enable Nummi to continue production at its Fremont facility," CMTA President Jack Stewart said, according to the Chronicle. "We expect that contractual obligations regarding completed employee training will be met." In fact, panel rules permit the agency to recover training funds when the company that gets money closes down or leaves the state. But a panel official said the $2 million was an indirect contract with CMTA, not NUMMI, so the recapture provision did not apply, the newspaper said. NUMMI received more than $18 million in training funds prior to the dispute. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the Chronicle that the governor's office requested the investigation.