Officials laud agreement to create light rail manufacturing jobs in L.A. County

From left: XX, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, XX and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's Maria Elena Durazo.

From left: Palmdale James Ledford, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Kinkisharyo’s Donald Boss and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Maria Elena Durazo. Photo: Luis Inzunza/Metro. 

A media event was held outside Metro headquarters this morning to celebrate the recent agreement that will result in Kinkisharyo keeping and expanding a facility to assemble new light rail cars for Metro’s Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. Below is the news release from the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:

The Mayor Convened Kinkisharyo and Labor and Community Groups to Continue Stalled Talks, Which Resulted in Agreement

LA Times Last Month Said: “much-celebrated plans to build a light-rail manufacturing plant in Palmdale appear all but dead.”

LOS ANGELES – In advance of today’s Metro Board Meeting, Los Angeles Mayor and L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chair Eric Garcetti lauded the agreement 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. Mayor 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. 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,” Mayor and Metro Chair Garcetti said. “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 a total of 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 night and day 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. Mayor 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, Program Management, 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 Eleven (IBEW 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. 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 LA,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

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 and employ up to 250 people 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 

About Kinkisharyo International, LLC:

Kinkisharyo International, LLC is the U.S. subsidiary of Kinki Sharyo Corporation of Osaka, Japan.  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 an unparalleled reputation for quality and on-time delivery and has produced hundreds of light rail vehicles for communities throughout the United States, including Boston, Jersey City, Santa Clara, Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle. The company is headquartered in El Segundo, California.

About IBEW Local Union Eleven:

Organized more than 100 years ago, IBEW 11 is one of the largest and most progressive IBEW locals in the country. They represent 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.

About the Jobs to Move America Coalition:

Jobs to Move America is a national coalition uniting more than 40 community, labor, faith, civil rights, philanthropic, academic and environmental groups to make our transit dollars go the distance.  Members of the Jobs to Move America coalition, which includes LAANE, IBEW local union 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 our communities: good jobs, cleaner equipment and more opportunity for low income people.

About the LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy):

LAANE 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.

12 replies

  1. “Let’s enforce “Made in the USA” and enforce it to the letter.”

    The problem with this is that it takes too long. When I want something, I want it now, not 20 years from now. And when a big purchase is made, I don’t want production issues hampering it. If I was Metro and I place an order for 5,000 rail cars delivered by next year, the Asian companies will deliver it with no delay. American companies will stall, go into labor negotiations, some stupid law comes up, or some NIMBYs raises concerns to force the plant to move elsewhere.

    This whole “Buy American” thing is totally outdated. It may have worked as a rally call back to the masses in the 1970s when the boycotts of Japanese made goods were done, but look where that lead today. It was totally futile and now we have Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers all making stuff for us that we pay a cheap price for. And no one cares, all they care about how great the new iPhone-produced-by-Foxconn is or how cool the new Samsung Galaxy Note is.

    Asian companies undercut American manufacturing jobs? Boo-hoo. It’s called competition. The fruit of capitalism. Don’t like it, too bad. Deal with reality or move to a communist utopia like North Korea or Cuba.

  2. “One, “Made In The USA” should mean the entire process, not just assembling from parts as in this case made in Japan.”

    So where is your computer that you’re using to type here made in? The monitor? The Intel or AMD CPU in your computer? The RAM? The hard drive? The router you’re using to connect to the internet? Your mouse and keyboard? You talk the talk, do you walk the walk? All ideological statements aside, you’re still going to buy that $299 Made in Thailand or Malaysia computer/laptop on sale over a $4,000 purely Made in USA computer.

    “Two, reciprocal import duties.”

    Google “Trans-Pacific Partnership” which does exactly that. We already in talks and it’s ready to be signed. What’s gonna happen? Absolutely nothing. We can export cars to Japan with reciprocal trade, Japan still won’t buy them because American cars are too big for Japanese roads. Ever been to Japan? Do you think a Ford F-150 or a Chevy Silverado is going to sell in a country where mass transit usage is high and the largest types of automobiles that are sold domestically in Japan are kei cars?

    • There are U.S. companies available to manufacture and assemble rail cars here. But my main point was government agencies requiring that what is being purchased is “Made in the USA.” Then they buy yes computers, and other software made in Asia. But lets look at all the auto’s and trucks being purchased from Asian companies. I believe both Ford and GM could be and should be the sole providers of these products but are under bide by Asian companies that claim their product is made in the USA when in fact they are only assembled here. The MTA purchased Toyota Prius a few years back. I was forced to drive one home one day and it was a piece of junk. Poorly manufactured, poor performance. And while a lopsided trade agreement is being negotiated it still is not law and may in fact be defeated. Such trade agreements in the past have hurt the U.S. workers not helped them. Let’s enforce “Made in the USA” and enforce it to the letter. If Kinkisharyo truly wants the contract they should be buying the steel, plastic and whatever other products needed to produce the cars right here in the United States which would put a lot more U.S. citizens to work and improve our tax base.

      • Upload an image of anything you own that’s Made in USA. You can start with the stuff you’re wearing right now. Where’s your TV made in? Your cell phone? Flip around everything and chances are the vast majority of the stuff you own aren’t American made.

        And by today, all of this jingoistic smashing Toshiba radios for propaganda means Buy American stuff you say is a total joke and no one believes in that idea anymore. People who say that don’t buy American themselves so why should we listen or believe in that idea? Jingoistic American exceptionalism is dead. You want people to buy American? Then start your own company and make something right here. Everything has to be Made in America. See how hard it is because nothing is made here anymore because all the manufacturing jobs, techniques, are all now outsourced to China. No one wants to build anything here. It’s too expensive to make anything here in the US. And frankly, consumers don’t care. They go for price and quality, not “American made,” just like yourself.

        “I believe both Ford and GM could be and should be the sole providers of these products but are under bide by Asian companies that claim their product is made in the USA when in fact they are only assembled here. The MTA purchased Toyota Prius a few years back. I was forced to drive one home one day and it was a piece of junk.”

        Well if Ford and GM were smart enough, they would’ve built and researched in building a hybrid engine instead of manufacturing gas guzzling SUVs. And gee whiz, Ford and GM hybrids are licensed technology from Toyota so where does that put you?

        You’re living in a 1950s world when everything is globalized today.

  3. Theo
    See my above reply. It’s a U.S. company and the oldest and only maker of railcar brakes for all U.S. railcar.

    • WABTEC which was formed from Westinghouse Brake and Morrison Knudson. MK has produced passenger railcars and locomotives for many years but is constantly under bidded by Asian companies.

    • And thus the start with the assembly plant is a good thing. If Kinkisharyo gets other contracts in the US, then this plant can serve them. As demand goes up, and if some agencies need more “built in the USA”, there is more incentive to do more of the manufacturing here. If Kinkisharyo get the contract for the heavy rail cars, they can be built here, expand the plant. Wouldn’t it be cool if subway cars for New York wind up getting made in LA County?

  4. Made in the USA should mean manufactured, not just assemble. This is not only a problem with this manufacturer but with most foreign companies skirting our made in the USA requirement when bidding on contracts funded by the United States government. It’s time two initiatives should be put into place. One, “Made In The USA” should mean the entire process, not just assembling from parts as in this case made in Japan. Two, reciprocal import duties. Currently many countries charge up to 14% import fees on goods made in the United States while the U.S. only charges 2% or lower for goods coming from those same countries. With such unfair policies not only does it penalize U.S. companies but encourages those same companies to move over seas seeking lower paid workers and shipping said goods back to the U.S. paying these lower import fee’s.

    • And which company in the US still has the experience of manufacturing rail cars? We’ve practically killed off the industry 50 years ago and the expertise has not been passed down to the newer generations. People who built rail cars in the US are already dead and six feet under the ground. Do we have the specialized machinery to make them? And rail cars aren’t just bending and welding hunks of sheet metal. It includes the glass, the seats, the railings, the floorings, the digital signs, the hand rails, the doors, the hydraulics, gears, the electrical components, etc. etc. None of those are made here.

      And face it, this is LA, no wants a factory here with all the NIMBYism going around. I don’t want a factory in my neighborhood, put it 100 miles away!! That’s what people say. And we raise minimum wages, put severe tax burdens on businesses all the while Arizona and Texas lowers taxes and actually builds factories for would be manufacturers.

      Manufacturing is not our expertise. The job market in LA today is the service sector, basically flipping burgers at McDonald’s. When they say “we lowered the unemployment rate here,” what they really mean is that we hired more burger flippers.

      The US makes nothing, produces nothing, and surprise, surprise: As of today, America is now officially #2 in the world as China HAS overtaken us.