Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Japanese Firm to Build Light Rail Cars, After All ...

A Japanese firm said it will go ahead with plans to build light-rail cars in Los Angeles County, a month after threatening to pull out when talks with organized labor groups stalled, transportation officials announced.

The county Metropolitan Transportation Authority said at least 150 jobs will be created when Kinkisharyo International of Osaka retrofits an existing manufacturing facility in Palmdale.

The company will also recognize a labor union if a majority of employees request one, the Los Angeles Times reported ( ) Tuesday. The firm has not traditionally had unions in its factories.

Two years ago, Kinkisharyo won an $890 million contract to build 175 rail cars for Metro and said it would move some manufacturing from Japan to Palmdale. The company rejected a request for a union card-check agreement, an optional process favored by labor leaders because it avoids holding an election on the factory floor.

Citing a delayed manufacturing schedule, Kinkisharyo officials said in October that they were instead considering opening a factory in Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon or Texas.

Over three weeks, the firm negotiated at Los Angeles City Hall with Jobs to Move America, a coalition of labor and community groups, aided by Mayor Eric Garcetti and his staff.

“Sometimes, we needed an intermediary,” Madeline Janis, the coalition’s director, told the Times. “We ordered pizza and coffee, and had some very late nights.”

The agency needs a major shipment of new vehicles for two new light-rail routes to Santa Monica and Azusa, scheduled to open in 2016, according to the newspaper.


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