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Employees of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont say if the plant closes next year, the impacts will reach farther than just the thousands of on-site jobs lost they say it will impact the greater Bay Area, perhaps the entire West Coast.

Members of the United Auto Workers Local 2244 were at their Union Hall Monday preparing signs and banners for a rally they will hold this afternoon in an effort to save jobs at NUMMI.

The rally will be from 1 to 5 p.m. at the UAW Union Hall, located at 45201 Fremont Blvd., across the street from the NUMMI plant.

A media report from Japan this weekend stated the plant will be closed by March. But Toyota officials said official word on NUMMI's status won't be decided until month's end.

If it closes, production of Toyota Motor Corp.'s Tacoma series of pick-up trucks may be moved to Texas.

The news of the potential shuttering comes just months after General Motors Corp. pulled out of a 25-year co-op deal with Toyota at the plant, as well as in the midst of labor negotiations with Toyota employees.

Approximately 4,700 employees work at the plant.

Milpitan Dave Mosqueda, a Toyota employee at the plant, said the closure will severely impact Fremont and Milpitas.

Mosqueda said there a number of Milpitas residents who work at the plant. In addition, employees frequent Milpitas shops and restaurants during the week.

Mosqueda and co-worker Hal Sanchez said a majority of cargo shipped into the Port of


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Oakland comes directly to NUMMI, and that cargo needs to be transported via trucks. Once the vehicles at NUMMI are built, they're transported all over the West Coast.

Both Mosqueda and Sanchez said a plant closure could potentially put truckers, longshoremen and other workers affiliated with NUMMI out of work, or reduce their workload.

But Mosqueda and Sanchez are hopeful Toyota might consider producing the Prius at NUMMI rather than shut it down altogether.

"We're saying this has nothing to do with UAW," Sanchez said. "The message we want to get out there is let's keep the plant open because people need jobs."

Plant workers are expecting Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Sen. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, to speak at today's rally.

Sanchez and Mosqueda said as of Monday, no one at the plant knew NUMMI's fate for certain.

"It's a dangerous statement to say (the plant will close) and then take it back," Mosqueda said. "A lot of rumors surfaced out there that made us a bit nervous.

"The issue isn't about our union or about the company," he said. "It's about saving jobs. The perks are negotiable. We're saying that if we sell something here, it should be built here."

DO YOU MISS IT? THIS IS ART-WINE WEEKEND

The third weekend in August has hosted the city's largest annual event, the Milpitas Art and Wine Summer Festival, recently renamed Celebrate Milpitas, for more than 20 years. But not this summer.

A lack of volunteers, decreased attendance and the failing economy factored in to the event's cancellation, Milpitas Chamber of Commerce Executive Manager Gaye Morando told the Post earlier this year.

Chamber officials this week said no date has been set for the festival's rescheduling, though talks earlier mulled a change to a fall or holiday event.

The chamber's first art and wine festival was held in 1988 at Milpitas Town Center. For the last decade the festival had been located near the South Milpitas and East Calaveras boulevard intersection.

The festival attracted 25,000 to 40,000 people annually.

TELEPHONE TOWN HALL

U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, covers the 15th District. This includes Milpitas. Rep. Honda will not be having a face-to-face live town hall meeting with his constituents. Instead, on Aug. 25 at 6:30 p.m. he will have a Telephone Town Hall meeting. Residents can register for this Telephone Town Hall meeting by going to honda.house.gov and clicking through several forms.