Idle handsPosted on October 10th, 2008 No comments
Toyota Texas Workers Scrub Graffiti as Factory Idles
By Alan Ohnsman
Idled Toyota Motor Corp. assembly- line workers in San Antonio are spending two weeks cleaning city parks, removing graffiti, painting benches and fixing fences instead of building pickup trucks.
Japan’s largest automaker, which counts on the U.S. to absorb 29 percent of vehicle production, is fighting the first annual sales slump in 13 years. With the credit crunch scaring buyers away from showrooms, the Toyota City, Japan-based company suspended truck-assembly operations in Texas and Indiana and cut initial output plans for a new sport-utility vehicle plant in Canada to half the original target.
Toyota said in July it would halt Tundra pickup production in San Antonio and Princeton, Indiana, from late August until mid-November to trim rising inventory of the full-size truck that went on sale last year. The move was a first for the company. Production of large Sequoia SUVs in Indiana also was suspended for the same period.
Workers in Texas and Indiana factories aren’t union members and haven’t been laid off. Toyota reassigned them to training programs and modifying assembly-line procedures to improve ergonomics, said Kelly Dillon, a spokeswoman for the Princeton plant.
While 100 Princeton employees volunteered to take unpaid leave, 140 others were redeployed temporarily to the Georgetown, Kentucky, plant and a Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. factory in Lafayette that’s run by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., a Toyota affiliate.
Toyota also scaled back plans to make Highlander SUVs at a plant under construction in Mississippi, shifting the vehicle to Indiana. Instead, the Prius hybrid hatchback, now exported from Japan, will be built in Mississippi starting in 2010.
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