Torrance, CA –Workers who stock parts for distribution to Toyota repair facilities across the Southwest voted to reject the automaker’s final contract offer and to authorize a strike. The vote, which was held Sunday under the auspices of Teamsters Local 848, brings the workers one step closer to a major work stoppage, which could cripple Toyota’s ability to deliver spare parts to dealers and other repair shops in Southern California and as far away as Salt Lake City.
Employees at the Torrance parts facility noted that although Toyota received a a $2.7 billion federal tax break as a result of tax cuts recently enacted by President Trump and Congress, the company was offering the workers raises of just 1%. That’s less than the workers got in 2015, before the Trump tax cuts. It’s also far less than the 3.2% average pay wage American workers will see this year.
“Millions of American workers will be seeing the signs of America’s comeback in their paychecks in February,” President Trump said in January, after he signed the tax breaks into law. “Very simply, your paychecks will be much bigger, because under our tax cuts you will be keeping more of your hard-earned money.”
But Toyota’s actions have left its workers wondering why the giant automaker, which posted record profits on Trump Tax Cuts, is rejecting Trump’s call to share its tax break with its employees. In February, Toyota announced a “surprise earnings boost” and record profits, in part from the Trump Tax Breaks that, according to a Toyota official, “added about 290 billion yen ($2.7 billion) to the bottom line.”
“We heard President Trump say that workers would be getting a pay raise with the tax breaks, so when Toyota got a $2.7 billion windfall, we expected to finally be able to catch up with the high cost of living in our communities,” said Daniel Valenzuela, a Teamsters Local 848 member who has worked at Toyota’s Torrance Parts Distribution Center (PDC) for more than ten years.
The workers said that Toyota’s offer pushes wages well below the annual rise in the cost of living and would expose their families to uncapped healthcare costs they just cannot afford. The workers say Toyota has steadfastly refused to fairly compensate workers in the Los Angeles area, where Toyota employees are struggling to make ends meet in a region that is 43 percent more expensive than the national average due largely to the high cost of housing.
“All we want is to be able to keep up with the cost of living and protect our families,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848. “Toyota has demonstrated how little the company values employees’ hard work and our members are prepared to go on strike if necessary.”
A strike at the Torrance facility would potentially cripple Toyota’s supply lines, making it impossible to get replacement parts to dealers and other repair shops. The parts warehouse stocks and distributes parts to shops in Southern California and in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and other major southwestern cities.
Teamsters Local 848 is considering filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Toyota for bargaining in bad faith and failing to respond to its economic proposals.