State asks feds for $33M when NUMMI shuts

The state Employment Development Department has applied for a $33 million federal grant to help the thousands of workers who will lose their jobs when the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. plant closes at the end of the month.

The state submitted its National Emergency Grant application to the U.S. Department of Labor last week. The grant program is designed to help in major worker dislocations, usually caused by natural disasters or other such emergencies.

But Jeff Wyly, assistant secretary for the Labor Workforce Development Agency, said the governor felt the closure of the plant was significant enough to warrant outside help.

"We think we made a pretty strong case that this is a huge deal," he said. "Usually, when we do apply for such grants we have a pretty successful rate."

The state reports that the closure of the Fremont plant will cause 4,700 workers to lose their jobs and cause shutdowns and downsizings at 32 direct suppliers, who employ 2,784 workers, and at 293 indirect suppliers, who employ 24,400 workers statewide.

Some 900 NUMMI workers live in San Joaquin County and 300 more in Stanislaus County.

If awarded, the grant would go toward job retraining, career assistance and other skills programs. All the money would be distributed to county work force investment boards, which would then create services to meet the area's needs.

Wyly said employees of NUMMI, direct and indirect suppliers would be eligible for the assistance. No funds would be awarded directly to workers.

The state has some assistance available to workers affected by the impending closure at three Bay Area locations: the Assessment Center at the NUMMI site, NUMMI Reemployment Center in the union hall in Fremont and the Project Renew Center at Chabot College in Hayward.

The sites all have information on unemployment benefits, trade adjustment assistance benefits, labor market information, job placement assistance services.

Wyly said there is no set time frame for when the grant might be reviewed by the Department of Labor.

"It could be anywhere from two weeks to a month to a month and a half," he said. "But if it is awarded, the money does come fairly quickly."

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or 578-2284.