Marquell Cradocks outside Toyota dealership

Marquell Cradocks stood outside the Toyota dealership on Shattuck Avenue Monday afternoon, handing out green leaflets telling the car maker to “Get Lost!”

Cradocks and other people associated with the United Auto Workers have been protesting outside the Toyota dealership on Shattuck Avenue for the last month, trying to draw attention – and outrage – to Toyota’s decision to close the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont on April 1.

About 4,700 workers will lose their job when the plant shuts down, and another 20,000 around the state will be affected. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has said the closure could cost the state about $2.3 billion.

Cradocks, a Toyota protest coordinator for the UAW, said the huge sign outside the dealership is meant to provoke dealers into calling the Toyota corporation to complain that the plant closure is giving the company a bad name.

You may ask how Toyota’s reputation could get any worse after the recall and news about out-of-control acceleration problems.

Cradocks points out that the NUMMI workers make Corollas and Tacomas, and neither of those cars have been associated with problems. That shows that the Fremont plant is operating at a high level. It doesn’t look good that Toyota is shutting a plant that produces 500 good-quality cars a day, while leaving open others that are producing faulty cars, said Craddocks.

The UAW has large signs reading “Toyota: Killing California Jobs,” outside dealerships in Hayward, Colma, Davis and elsewhere.

“The new, reckless Toyota is endangering our environment as well as California motorists, workers, and our communities,” the flyer reads.

Update: Bob Herbert has an excellent editorial in today’s New York Times pointing out the cravenness of Toyota’s decision. He points out that Californian buy more Priuses than anyone else and that the region has offered the company millions of dollars in incentives over the years. In fact, 12 years ago the Port of Oakland spent $410 million to dredge the port so a certain type of ship that Toyota required could come into the bay.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...