Many of these jobs went overseas or to cheaper, non-union regions in the South or Southwest.
"A lot of people moved around over the country in an attempt to get jobs, but few of them were able to go to another facility of that company and fit in, very few," said Jim Daughterty, a retired utility workers union official who has been working on a labor history project for a Southern California social research group.
"It's certainly a changed world from what we knew then," said Allard. "And in many ways it's a sadder one."
Chronology of Auto Plant Closings in California
* August, 1992: General Motors will close its assembly plant in Van Nuys; 2,600 workers will lose their jobs.
* May, 1983: Ford closes assembly plant in Milpitas; 2,386 jobs lost.
* December, 1982: Chrysler closes parts depot in San Leandro; the facility had 77 workers.
* April, 1982: GM closes its South Gate assembly plant; more than 2,550 jobs are lost.
* March, 1982: GM closes its auto plant in Fremont; 2,500 workers are laid off. The plant reopens in 1984 under ownership of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a company jointly owned by Toyota and GM. The plant now has 3,000 workers--many rehired from GM's original crew--who make Geo Prizms and Toyota Corollas. (When GM's Van Nuys plant closes, it will be the last auto plant in the state.)