Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to BMW North America CEO Jim O’Donnell on June 24, asking him to reconsider a poorly thought-out plan to fire BMW’s nearly 100 Ontario, CA employees later this summer and immediately re-open the facility the very next day with a cheaper, inexperienced work force. U.S. Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA 43) sent a similar letter to BMW as well.
The German automobile giant, Bavarian Motor Works AG, America’s most popular automaker for luxury-class autos, booked its richest earnings in its 95-year history this quarter.
BMW had global sales of almost $81 billion in 2010, or about $848,000 per employee, ranking it number 82 on Fortune’s Global 500 Companies. BMW also received over $3.6 billion in secret low-interest loans during the 2008-2009 taxpayer bailout.
Boxer wrote, “As the economic recovery continues, it is deeply disappointing that these loyal employees would be penalized at a time when your company recently reported 2011 first quarter earnings of $1.78 billion —triple that of first quarter earnings in 2010—and first quarter sales 21 percent greater than last year.”
Baca wrote, “[This] will needlessly layoff workers in a region experiencing the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Replacing those positions with a low wage workforce is an injustice and a blow to our local economy.”
Teamsters Local 495 represents 65 workers at the Ontario parts distribution facility.
“When taxpayers gave billions of dollars in bailout money to auto companies, they expected to grow the economy and save American jobs, but just the opposite has happened,” said Randy Cammack, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42, “BMW got bailed out with nearly $4 billion in top-secret low-interest federal loans and in exchange, they mock America’s plant closing laws and try to destroy working families.”
“BMW would never be allowed to get away with this in Germany—they wouldn’t dare try it,” said Teamsters Local 495 Secretary-Treasurer Bob Lennox. “They think they can take an American taxpayer bailout and then treat their American workers in a way they would never treat their German employees.”
Ontario BMW workers held a rally on June 16 to protest the layoffs.