By KAREN MASTERSON|
Garden State Tanning's Williamsport plant is throwing a picnic Saturday to celebrate the company's relationship with the Japanese automaker, Toyota.
The local plant is the only U.S. supplier of leather seats for several of Toyota's luxury and mid-priced cars. It received two 1996 awards for being a "superior supplier," according to Martha Voss, Toyota's U.S. sales spokeswoman.
But in May 1995, Garden State sent nearly 600 layoff notices to employees. By June, employment at the plant dropped from 650 workers to 70.
The reason: Deteriorating U.S.-Japan trade relations.
U.S. trade representatives accused the Japanese of unfair trade practices in autos and auto parts, and threatened to slap heavy tariffs on 11 Japanese luxury cars in retaliation.