Back in February, New United Motor Manufacturing Co. (NUMMI), the now defunct joint agreement between Toyota and General Motors in Fremont, CA, entered an agreement with California's Employment Training Panel that would provide training to 1,400 workers. Since the time of the agreement, GM has backed out of the partnership with Toyota and ceded the plant to the Japanese automaker. For its part, Toyota has announced it will close the plant by March 2010, leaving 4,700 workers unemployed.

That isn't stopping Toyota from trying to collect the $2 million it says is owed to them for completing the training program. The training covered improved manufacturing techniques, automotive training and computer skills, but critics say the training is effectively useless since the NUMMI plant is the last automotive assembly plant in California. Labor Union lobbyist Barry Broad went as far as to call the request "corporate welfare" in light of the fact that the training will likely never be utilized in the Golden State. Toyota, on the other hand, is sticking to the company line, with a statement saying, "These skills have made our team members greater contributors to NUMMI and will make them more attractive to prospective employers when they conclude their employment here in April 2010."

The California Manufacturers and Technology Assn, which provided the training and later worked hard to keep the NUMMI plant open, is on Toyota's side in the dispute, saying "a deal's a deal." While Toyota's request for $2 million even though it is closing the plant sounds like a PR nightmare given the horrible financial state California is in, it's hard to deny that they deserved to be compensated for the training. After all, the agreement was for training, not for continued employment. Perhaps next time the Employment Training Panel makes a deal to provide money for training, it'll stipulate that the workers being trained stay employed long enough to reap the benefits of their education.

[Source: LA Times | Image Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty]

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