Workers Rights: Toyota Leads Race to the Bottom

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Researched by Edward Martin and Karene Schelert

Toyota, the world’s largest auto manufacturer, is taking a leading role in union busting and setting the pattern for slave-like working conditions around the globe. In Japan, at its flagship operation in Toyota City, some 30 percent of the workforce are temporary workers who earn as little as half what permanent employees do. In the surrounding area, a network of closely related supplier companies utilizes thousands of foreign guest workers under conditions that, by many definitions, qualify as human trafficking. Toyota Japan has created a work environment so stressful that, each year, an estimated 200 to 300 employees are incapacitated or killed from overwork and stress related illness. In the U.S. – where Toyota has 13 facilities employing some 36,000 people, and sells an average of 56,923 vehicles each week – the need for American auto companies to compete is causing profound changes in the industry. In September 2008, an internal Toyota memo leaked from its Georgetown, Kentucky plant, laid out management’s plans to cut $300 million in labor costs in its U.S. operations. Toyota will end its practice of pegging its hourly wages to UAW rates, and new hires will earn significantly less. US autoworkers will quickly become familiar with Toyota Japan work conditions, warns author Briggs, as “the race to the bottom is just warming up.”


“Toyota: Auto Industry Race to the Bottom” Barbara Briggs, CorpWatch, 9/16/2008