Kentucky Toyota-Workers Air Grievances

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) - Current and former workers at Toyota's Kentucky plant shared stories Sunday about low wages and poor working conditions - rallying points many in the assembly line are hoping will ultimately lead to unionization.

A crowd of about 200 people - many of them workers at the Georgetown plant that produces the Camry - attended the meeting of the Kentucky Workers' Rights Board, a panel of religious and civic leaders pushing for better labor conditions.

Like foreign-owned auto companies across the South, Toyota is nonunion, but the leaders on the board sympathize with the workers and many contend that should change.

"We are people of community, and part of our community has said to us that things are not exactly the way they need to be in the work situation at Toyota," said Father John Rausch, coordinator of peace and justice at the Catholic Diocese in Lexington. "We are not trying to tear Toyota down. We are trying to make it better and have a better partner in community."

Two current employees and two fired ones described what they said were extraordinary steps taken by the company to prevent union organization.

A major focus of the hearing, which lasted nearly two hours, was the company's use of temporary workers, who some of the employees said were doing the same amount of work as the full-timers for half the pay.

"They're trying to get a job there," said Cornelia James, who has worked at Toyota for 19 years. "Full-time employment is dangled in front of them like a carrot, and they're told, any missteps and you're out."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-06-10-07 1656EDT

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  • by Dave Location: Georgetown on Jun 11, 2007 at 08:02 PM
    Line all good propaganda, this story is full of half-truths and innuendo. Full-time payscales are above the auto industry average. Any poor working conditions are sometimes because the workers don't want to assist in their own environment's improvement. (Please fix everything for me. I'm going home) All new-hires now come throught the temp worker program. Some we get are definitely NOT qualified or capable to do the work here. After 2-3 years those who are can be hired on as fulltime. The amount of temps used at TMMK has dramatically dropped over the last 18 months.
  • by Sam Location: Lewis Co. on Jun 11, 2007 at 06:25 PM
    I worked there from Nov. 96 til Feb. 07. I got hurt on the job doing their work the way they wanted it done and after 3 years, they fired me because of my work related injury. I went from a $60,000 a year job to around $18,000 a year on Social Security income. "Yes, it`s a great place to work but, when you get hurt, they kick you to the side." Do you think it`s right for Toyota to do this? My opinion is, there needs to be a union so this doesn`t happen to other people.
  • by Jean Location: Georgetown on Jun 11, 2007 at 06:03 AM
    Sounds like a great plan of action: get the union to increase the wages so the workers have enough money to pay their union dues. It appears that the union just wants a piece of the Toyota pie. I have lived in Georgetown for years and have never heard any complaints from the people I know who work for Toyota. The priest said he wanted to make Toyota a "better partner in community"....ummm maybe he should drive by the new schools and parks we have in Georgetown because of Toyota. I can't imagine a better community partner than Toyota. But then again...the guy is talking and trying to take action from the Lexington point of view. Maybe he should concentrate on the local factory ills in Fayette county, I'm sure there are plenty to go after, but maybe not as lucrative as Toyota.
  • by Samantha Location: Irvine on Jun 10, 2007 at 11:05 PM
    This is absolutely true. My boyfriend is currently a temporary employee at Toyota. He has been there for almost 2 years. His hire date should be August, but now is pushed back to October. The temps work the same shifts and have the same duties as the fulltimers. He currently makes about 5 dollars an hour less than if he was a new fulltimer.
  • by Don Location: Lexington, KY on Jun 10, 2007 at 08:17 PM
    Low Wages are they crazy!! I work at Toyota, I have been there for 19 years. We make excellent wages here in KY. We make $27.00 a hour. Where else in KY can you make that kind of money per hour? They have no right to complain we have great pay and benefits. We do not have poor working conditons. We do want or need a union at TMMK!!


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