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30 Percent of Toyota Employees May Move to Texas, Job Offers Pending

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/19/2014 Kelly Pleskot
toyota-headquarters-torrance-california-2© Provided by MotorTrend toyota-headquarters-torrance-california-2

It has been almost seven months since Toyota announced it would move its North American headquarters from California to Texas, and although the change won't completely go into effect until 2017, there is already plenty of anxiety surrounding the big transition.

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Already, Toyota's first crop of workers arrived at a temporary office in Plano this summer, while the rest of the crew will come to Texas in stages by 2017. Toyota said it expects to retain 50 percent of its workers, which should be enough to maintain productivity throughout the transition. But according to one source cited by Automotive News, management thinks the number could realistically be as low as 30 percent.

There's also more than enough tension on the employee side, starting from earlier this summer when workers were told that Toyota would rewrite their job descriptions and release their new titles beginning in January 2015. The strategy is to unite Toyota's workforce under a single set of guidelines, instead of making each division decide their own separate rules. As a result, workers can expect benefits, bonuses, and work responsibilities to change. And according to sources quoted by AN, the move will "thin the ranks" of low- and mid-level employees at Toyota's Torrance financial services office and will put salaries on par with new hires, a decision that has decreased morale and productivity among workers.

As Honda's California offices are reportedly receiving an influx of applications from Toyota employees, Toyota is coming up with a plan to keep as many workers as it can. As a silver lining, workers who stay with Toyota until the move will be rewarded with a "generous retention package," according to Toyota spokesman Steven Curtis. Those who take the leap to Texas will be compensated further with a lump sum payment.

Toyota's move to Texas will bring together 2000 employees at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., 1000 employees at Toyota Financial Services in Torrance, another 1000 positions at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing in Kentucky, and 50 positions at the company's New York office. To lure more employees into making the move, Toyota is reportedly hosting three-day trips to Plano at some of the area's ritziest hotels to allow workers to explore the city.

UPDATE : We asked Mike Michels, vice president of product communications for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., for comment. He said that the AN report, which alludes in the title to "tensions at Toyota," overstates the situation and general mood of the employees. While not everyone is happy about the move, he said he thinks the majority of workers are actually excited about the transition. He emphasized that everyone will be offered a job and the move is not about reducing Toyota's workforce. According to Michels, AN's statement that Toyota worries about only retaining 30 percent of its workers after the move "doesn't reflect what management thinks" as it is not verifiable.

Toyota is far from the only automaker to ditch its old headquarters for greener pastures. Nissan made the move from California to Tennessee several years ago, leaving Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, and Mitsubishi holding down the fort in the Golden State. Meanwhile, Cadillac just announced it will leave its hometown city of Detroit for New York City lights.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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