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Mitsubishi, UAW Resume Talks After Three Years

July 21, 2008
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Mitsubishi Motors North America has returned to the negotiating table with the UAW after a three-year delay in contract talks.

In August 2005 the Normal, Illinois-based company, facing difficulties, agreed with UAW Local 2488 to postpone new contract talks and extend the terms of the existing contract to March 2008.

With problems continuing, the UAW agreed in 2006 to extend the contract six more months and to accept a temporary $4-an-hour wage cut to help keep the plant open. That wage decrease ended in April 2008.

The contract now expires one minute before midnight on August 28.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, July 15, Mitsubishi and the union said, “We are now into substantial negotiations of a new contract,” adding that neither would comment publicly on details of the talks.

The Normal plant, which builds the Galant sedan, Eclipse sports car and Endeavor SUV, has been a UAW shop since it opened in 1988 as Diamond-Star Motors, a 50-50 joint venture with Chrysler Corp. Chrysler exited the partnership in 1991.

For much of this decade, the factory has struggled as Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales have collapsed. The plant was built to produce 240,000 cars a year and employ 3,000. It will turn out about 68,000 units this year.

Earlier this year, Mitsubishi offered some employee buyouts in an effort to trim the plant’s 1,600-person workforce by 100 people.

Filed by Lindsay Chappell of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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