• Aug 18th 2008 at 6:32PM
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Toyota is struggling to sell trucks and SUVs like everyone else, but unlike the competition, no full-time workers from stalled factories are getting laid off. The 4,500 workers at idled plants are instead bettering themselves through eduction by taking classes on safety, diversity, and Toyota history. They're also doing community service while on the clock and even some gardening. The workers will be learning how to work faster and smarter during the down time, and are even being shifted to busier plants on a temporary basis to help plants that are working beyond capacity to keep up with demand.

Toyota's plan to keep its workers busy at all costs isn't cheap, as about $50 million is being spent to keep workers busy with training programs. Of course, you can't please everyone and the plan isn't sitting well with all of Toyota's workforce, as workers at running factories don't like the fact that laid off workers are getting a leg up on training. A more skilled plant could have an advantage over others in getting earmarked for future products, so unaffected workers also want the extra training.

While expensive and a bit of a logistics nightmare, Toyota's plan is a good one if you can afford it. It should help create a more loyal, better trained workforce that also forges ties with the surrounding community. We bet Toyota hopes it will prevent any talk of unionizing, as well. And with Toyota's record profits over the past few years, $50 million is a drop in the corporate bucket.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req., Image: Junko Kimura/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      What do you people think the GM/Ford/Chrysler jobs bank workers did?

      I worked with a bunch of GM guys on a Habitat for Humanity house a few years back.

      Toyota gets good press for what the big three got ripped on for a few months back? WTF?
      • 7 Years Ago
      For 100 years GM has provide jobs to the U.S., some would say that GM/Ford/Chrysler and the steel industry created the middle class of this country. When the country need to stop making cars and start making weapons to protect the country GM/Ford where there. GM has over 1.1 million people that it provides pensions and benefits, that is a hugh commitment to the working class of this country. If you want to judge the value of a company to a country you need to go back more than just a few years. Toyota has 8 plants in the U.S. and GM over 60. GM has issues, many of them created by the decisions that leadership made and did not make, but let's not decide that value of a company and how caring they are because they have people in training and doing some gardening for a few weeks.

      • 7 Years Ago
      So, let me get this straight.... Toyota does a Jobs Bank and we hear about them planting flowers, and it's fine. GM does the same thing and we only hear about people watching "People's Court"?

      Come on Chris Shunk, take off the Toyota rose colored glasses. I'm sure with a little digging you'd find some Toyota folks watching the Price is Right too.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually Colin, no, you wouldn't. There are no televisions with outside access for them to use. The only televisions on the plant site are in the cafeterias and they only display CNN and other news channels. If they're home watching Price Is Right, they're either taking vacation or taking an unpaid leave of absense, period.
      • 7 Years Ago
      As others have said, they could easily dump the idled workers into the unemployment lines. I think additional training and education is a great idea and will create better goodwill with the workers and its great press. As Toyota switches production to more fuel efficient vehicle product in the US, they should need the extra workers. They have probably figured it is cheaper to keep these workers on then to have to start from scratch and hire.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wish the people who put my car together took diversity classes.
      • 7 Years Ago
      it also keeps down the cost of its unemployment insurance because the more people you have on it the higher the cost.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Always cheaper to keep non-union employees happy than to piss them off and have them vote the union in. That is the point, Toyota treats its employees well so there is little need to unionize. Why would one feel the need to pay a union when they are already content?

      Im am not being cynical but Toyota is not being altruistic, they being pragmatic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What hypocrisy from the Toyota fanboys . If it was GM, Ford or Chrysler doing this you would be screaming about the lazy, useless workers and their cushy contracts.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I would be pissed if any of the Big 3 didn't lay off idle workers when they are losing billions each year.

        However, sometimes its best to keep workers loyal and well trained during hard economic times, and swallow short-term loses for long-term workforce stability. The bing-and-purge labor employment does neither the company nor the worker any good. For Toyota this makes sense.

        Hell, VW spent $384 million on R&D alone for the Veyron project, which has been negative for the companies bottom line and has only benefited the ego of Pierch. $50million for keeping workers trained during a dip in the economy is more then reasonable.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The difference is that GM, Ford and Chrysler HAVE to do it because of the Union Contract. Toyota is doing it to better their company.
      • 7 Years Ago
      this has got to be one of the best ways to deal with this kinds of situation. creative and efficient.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well that's nice of them!
      • 7 Years Ago
      True..but the big 3 are stuck with union labor until the work force votes them out (like THAT'S going to happen).
      • 7 Years Ago
      In short, this is called a Job bank that UAW negociated with the manufacturers.

      A system like this works and is laudable when it is temporary. Toyota has experienced continuous growth for many years. When the demand for your product stalls (ie when competition grows their market share as for ex Hyundai) then you run the risk of having a permanent Job bank.

      The employment for life has been a way of life for Japanese corporations. More and more you see that they hire temporary workers or sublet the work. This way, they don't look as if they made a layoff so typical nowadays.

      This is good public relation and will remain so until they have a reality check. No corporation is immune from an economy slowdown.

      If you train your workers, have them gardening or do university, especialy the younger ones, you run the risk of alianating the more senior employees. When the senior employees get mad, you may get an industrial disease called UAW.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Employment for life only applies to top-tier Japanese companies. Most of the work in a Japanese car is subcontracted, and those companies (like NipponDenso) do not have "employment for life".

        It has been this way since the 80s.
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