Business & Economy

Impasse over rail-car manufacturing jobs resolved

Airport Link testing. A Kinkisharyo-Mitsui LRV is parked on the elevated guideway that leads to SeaTac/Airport station a short distance from Tukwila International Boulevard Station. November, 2009. Kinkisharyo International was just awarded Los Angeles' rail car contract.
Airport Link testing. A Kinkisharyo-Mitsui LRV is parked on the elevated guideway that leads to SeaTac/Airport station a short distance from Tukwila International Boulevard Station. November, 2009. Kinkisharyo International was just awarded Los Angeles' rail car contract.
Oran Viriyincy/Flickr/Creative Commons

A labor dispute centered on the potential exodus of rail car manufacturing jobs from Los Angeles County has been resolved, leading to the addition of more jobs, according to an announcement from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

“Last month, the lines were drawn in the sand and we were going to see jobs that could be in L.A. County go somewhere else. But because we brought both sides back to the table to grind out night and day negotiations with my office, L.A. County is going to see new middle class jobs and an expansion of our manufacturing base,” said Garcetti, who is also the Metro chair.

The impasse involves Japanese company Kinkisharyo International, which already assembles light rail cars under a contract with L.A. Metro at a plant in Palmdale. Kinkisharyo originally wanted to expand, moving the entire manufacturing process to Palmdale from Japan - and bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

That drew the ire of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who also disagreed with Kinkisharyo about the way workers could unionize in the future when the plant was built.

The new agreement between the union and Kinkisharyo involves the Japanese company expanding its assembly and testing operations at its current Palmdale site, which Garcetti's office said would lead to 250 more jobs and 97 more rail cars. Also included in the new deal is Kinkisharyo's offering job readiness training and other help to disadvantaged workers in LA County.

Representatives from both sides lauded the deal, with Kinkisharyo General Manager Donald Boss calling the day historic while adding, "“These negotiations were not easy, but we are confident that as a result of our agreement with IBEW 11, we will continue to do what we do best – manufacture quality rail cars and deliver them on time and on budget."

Marvin Kropke, business manager of IBEW 11, thanked the Japanese company for its "commitment to a strong partnership."