Metro cars produced by Kinkisharyo.
Metro cars produced by Kinkisharyo.

Los Angeles Mayor and L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chair Eric Garcetti announced Nov. 25 that an agreement has been reached between Kinkisharyo International LLC and labor and community groups to resolve an impasse that would have seen the company locate manufacturing operations for its next order of Metro light rail cars outside of L.A. County.

Garcetti intervened to continue stalled talks among the parties, resulting in the agreement.

“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,” Garcetti said. “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.

“As I oversee the nation’s largest public works project as mayor and Metro chair, it’s critical to me that our economy benefits from our $36 billion transportation build-out, and this agreement makes that happen. Creating good, local jobs as we strengthen our local infrastructure is key to my back-to-basics agenda for L.A. ”

As a result of the agreement, Kinkisharyo will expand the current light rail car assembly and testing operations at its existing site in Palmdale to include manufacturing tasks, which will create up to 250 jobs. The 175 cars being worked on at the facility will be put into service on the Crenshaw, Exposition and extended Gold lines.

The agreement includes a neutrality agreement, as well as a commitment to explore additional skills training and assistance for disadvantaged L.A. County workers.

Over the last month, negotiations took place via separate and joint meetings with both sides, conference calls, and sessions in the mayor’s office, with the company and labor and community groups each at times stationed in separate conference rooms and the mayor’s staff going back and forth to broker the deal. Garcetti directly participated in the negotiations in person and via telephone.

“Today is a historic day for Kinkisharyo, and we are glad we are able to come to an agreement with IBEW 11,” said Donald Boss, general manager for program management in Los Angeles for Kinkisharyo. “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.

“I want to especially thank Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his staff for their work in helping to bring this agreement to fruition. Without his help, we would not be here today. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Supervisor Mike Antonovich for his support, and the strong support we have received from the Los Angeles business community over the past few months.”

“We would also like to thank Mayor Eric Garcetti for his great leadership, as well as his able staff, on this important issue,” said Marvin Kropke, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union Number 11. “We thank Kinkisharyo for its commitment to a strong partnership. This settlement recognizes the value of good middle class jobs in rail car manufacturing. We will continue to advocate for healthier communities and good, green jobs in the Antelope Valley and throughout L.A. County.”

“This settlement is a win for Los Angeles taxpayers, transit riders, the environment and working families,” said Madeline Janis, director of the Jobs to Move America coalition. “Our public transit dollars can go the distance to create high-quality jobs, promote clean transit choices, and generate opportunities for disadvantaged people. This settlement in L.A. should serve as a model for other U.S. cities expanding their transportation systems.”

“Los Angeles County voters have a high standard for public projects,”said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “Taxpayer-funded projects should benefit workers and residents. With this settlement, all sides are honoring Measure R’s promise of increased public transit and good, clean jobs in L.A.”

Currently, Kinkisharyo is assembling and testing 78 light rail cars at its Palmdale facility under a 2012 Metro contract. Under this agreement, the present facility will be expanded to perform additional manufacturing tasks to fulfill an order for 97 additional cars, and it will do similar work on future orders as well.

Under this agreement:

• Kinkisharyo has signed a neutrality agreement;

• LACMTA (Metro) will work with the Jobs to Move America coalition to develop new public records act protocols;

• Labor and community groups settled a public records act lawsuit and agreed that all environmental challenges are now moot;

• Kinkisharyo and the Jobs to Move America coalition will explore ways to expand opportunities for disadvantaged L.A. County workers, including military veterans, women and people of color, and will explore potential job readiness training programs.

Kinkisharyo International LLC is the U.S. subsidiary of Kinki Sharyo Corp. of Osaka. The parent company has a nearly 100-year history of producing top-quality rail cars ranging from streetcars to the famed Shinkansen bullet trains. In the U.S., Kinkisharyo International has established a reputation for quality and on-time delivery and has produced hundreds of light rail vehicles for communities throughout the country, including Boston, Jersey City, Santa Clara, Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle. The company is headquartered in El Segundo.

Organized more than 100 years ago, IBEW 11 is one of the largest and most progressive IBEW locals in the country. It represents more than 11,000 construction electricians and L.A. City municipal workers. The IBEW’s cause is human rights, human justice and human security. Marvin Kropke is a 36-year member of the IBEW and has been the business manager since 1997.

Jobs to Move America is a national coalition uniting more than 40 community, labor, faith, civil rights, philanthropic, academic and environmental groups to make transit dollars go the distance. Members of the coalition, which includes LAANE, IBEW 11, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and others, is dedicated to ensuring that the billions of public dollars spent on public transit systems create better results for local communities — good jobs, cleaner equipment and more opportunity for low-income people.

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy is a leading advocacy organization dedicated to building a new economy for all. Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy and the organizing of broad alliances, LAANE promotes a new economic approach based on good jobs, thriving communities and a healthy environment.

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