Saturday, July 09, 2005


So Tell Me Again How Destroying The Tax Base Will Make For A Better Business Climate...

...because it sure hasn't worked in the "right-to-work" states in the South. In fact, we find that because states like Alabama and Mississippi are unwilling to invest in public schools, Toyota has decided to open a new plant in Canada, even though Alabama and Mississippi both offered Toyota plenty of incentive money:

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs. Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project. He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment. "The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
Haven't heard of any reaction to this from Mississippi, but the article definitely touched a nerve in Alabama. From the Decatur Daily:
"Toyota has been extremely pleased with the work force in Alabama," said Jim Bolte, vice president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Huntsville. "Since starting production in 2003, we have announced two expansions and continue to hire highly skilled, dedicated Alabamians." Bolte said more than 70 percent of the plant's employees have at least some college training and called the company's experience in the state "overwhelmingly positive." Bolte said, "The Alabama work force continues to meet Toyota's high expectations. I truly believe we have assembled one of the most diverse, skilled and dedicated teams in the world, and I have no doubt we will find more of the same as we continue to expand and hire in Alabama."
Which is all well and good. But if you read through the whole article, you'll note that nobody in it attempts to deny the allegation that Nissan and Honda need to use "pictorials" to train their Alabama workforce. And I note the use of the words "college training". Not "college" or "college degrees", but "college training". In other words, it's not that 70% of the Alabama Toyota workers have college degrees, though that's obviously what Mr. Bolte wants us to believe. I'm thinking it's much more likely that the workers got their own brand of pictorial training on the grounds of a nearby college campus.

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