State and local politicians vowed to bring federal stimulus money to the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in any way they could to save thousands of jobs in the area, but their support may have come too late.

Toyota Motors Corp. announced Thursday morning it would cease operations at the plant by March 2010.

The move comes at a time when the automotive giant is planning to reduce global production by 10 percent, or 1 million vehicles.

Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, represents Fremont and issued a statement upon the news.

"I was very disappointed to hear that Toyota has made this announcement," she said. "I, along with other state lawmakers and the governor's office, have been working very hard to create a package of incentives to keep the NUMMI plant open.

"California is one of the largest vehicle markets in the world and it just makes sense that cars should be produced here. We will continue our efforts in the hope that there is any change of direction by Toyota and, if not, to work toward attracting another car manufacturer to the plant. I will also do everything I can to help the nearly 5,000 workers in my district who will be impacted by this news."

Longtime NUMMI employee Dave Mosqueda reacted to the news sullenly but said the United Auto Workers Local 2244 had yet to hear an official statement from the company's Board of Directors.

"It's very devastating," Mosqueda said. "It's something we never wanted to taste. Now we're trying to see


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if Toyota will reconsider its decision."

He said a special meeting was to be called Thursday afternoon by UAW members to discuss the situation.

"We did the best we could for 25 years," he said. "We can only hope someone else - in a worst-case scenario - can come in and take over and keep these jobs here."

Mosqueda said the union will hold a rally today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office on Post Street in San Francisco.

Fremont rally all for naught? UAW Local 2244 held its big Fremont rally at the group's union hall on Aug. 20.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Fremont and San Jose mayors Bob Wasserman and Chuck Reed, and representatives from the AFL-CIO and Alameda Labor Council all attended.

Many motorists traveling along Fremont Boulevard honked in support of the approximately 2,000 auto workers crowding the corner at Ingot Drive as employees shook and waved their picket signs in the air, emblazoned with the words "Save NUMMI Now" and "Keep NUMMI Open."

The rally was held in response to mounting rumors that Toyota would close the Fremont car plant this spring. The reports surfaced just months after General Motors Corp. pulled its stake in the 1984-founded NUMMI plant following a financial bailout from the government.

Earlier Japanese media reports stated Toyota may move production of its Tacoma pick-up truck line - currently built at NUMMI - to Texas and would likely leave nearly 5,000 Toyota employees at the Fremont plant without jobs.

But UAW Local 2244 representatives said the rally was not only about saving 4,600 NUMMI jobs, but saving the economy in the surrounding area that includes some 50,000 jobs up and down the West Coast.

James Latter, owner of Kirby's Bar and Grill, said NUMMI's closure would mean he'd lose about 50 percent of his clientele.

"NUMMI's my bread and butter," Latter said as he served free food and drink to rally attendees. "I bought that bar 10 years ago, and now it's the No. 1 sports bar in the East Bay - because of NUMMI."

Latter said he opens every day at 6 a.m. because the plant's night shift ends at 6:05 a.m.

He said over the years NUMMI workers have persuaded him to sponsor youth sports teams. He's also become good friends with many of his patrons. "They're blue collar people," he said. "We've got to figure out a solution. I don't know what it is, but we've got to figure something out. I mean, they're the biggest employer in Fremont."

Javier Contreras, a Local 2244 spokesman, spoke before his co-workers, asking how anyone can turn down a workforce "that is so great at what they do."

He added NUMMI can learn to build other Toyota models, as its employees have done so over the course of 25 years.

"We have a goal and that goal is to keep NUMMI open," Contreras said. "This workforce here - for 25 years - has been loyal to Toyota. We build the best automobiles in the world, and we've adapted to change."

Before he spoke, Lt. Gov. Garamendi removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and pounded his fist on the podium.

"Let's send a message that California is going to keep this plant," Garamendi shouted. "No one works harder than California, and you are the heart of the California workforce."

Garamendi suggested Toyota put another line of cars into the plant such as the Prius or another hybrid.

He also asked President Barack Obama to give NUMMI part of the stimulus package he gave to Detroit's Big Three automakers earlier this year. "President Obama, put a package together for GM, Ford and Chrysler to build their cars somewhere else," he said. "Mr. President - give California part of that and we'll build automobiles right here in Fremont, California!"

Garamendi finished his address by stating the California Legislature will do everything it can to see Washington, D.C. sends a stimulus package to NUMMI.

Wasserman said several Alameda County leaders formed a task force to put an incentive package together for Toyota executives to consider. He said Toyota briefly responded that those incentives had been received, and now it will take time to consider them.

"Obviously it's their decision to make, and there's obviously a great deal to consider," Wasserman said. "We don't know what the outcome will be. But NUMMI has been a marvelous partner with the city."

Wasserman noted the plant has won numerous awards as the best auto plant in the world, and even with unsettling news about the closure, its employees should be proud of their 25-year legacy.

"We can only hope for the best and do whatever we can do," he said. "The county and the state have chipped in. If we can do it, it will be done." Art Pulaski, a representative of the AFL-CIO, said labor unions across the country are standing by NUMMI employees.

"We are proud of the workers of Fremont - who do quality work, who build quality cars, who get the job done and build cars in America," he said. "We know Toyotas are driven more in California than in any other place in America," he added. "And the Prius is driven in Northern California more than any other place. So this is the best place to build that car."

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed wanted Toyota executives to know the best and brightest workers in the world are in Silicon Valley.

"This is bigger than just you," Reed told the crowd. "This is bigger than the people who work here, bigger than Fremont. This will affect San Jose and the entire Bay Area. We're all working together to do what needs to be done to save this plant.

"The most creative, most talented, most productive people are here in Silicon Valley, and you people can build the best car in the world," he added. "I love my Toyota, but I'd love it even more if it was built here."

Sen. Corbett introduced a resolution to the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy on Tuesday declaring the Legislature's priority should be a swift and decisive action to protect California workers and industries, including doing everything in its power to keep NUMMI in California.

The committee unanimously backed the resolution.

Bruce Kern, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Corp. spearheading Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Red Team on saving the NUMMI plant, was also scheduled to speak to the committee along with Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturing and Technology Association.