Kinkisharyo International LCC will continue to talk for another month with a group against its proposed light rail manufacturing plant in Palmdale.
Antelope Valley Residents for Responsible Development is challenging the 400,000-square-foot facility planned by the Japanese company for environmental reasons, but there are labor undertones. Members of the group include International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 11, in Pasadena, who are seeking to organize the plant.
Attorneys for Kinkisharyo and the residents' group asked the Palmdale City Council to put the matter on hold until Nov. 5 so that talks between both sides can continue. The Council voted to do so Thursday evening.
The group is appealing a decision in August by the city Planning Commission recommending approval of a site plan, claiming the decision was based on outdated environmental impact reports.
The appeal came about after IBEW Local No. 11 and Kinkisharyo could not agree on using card check at the new Palmdale plant. Card check is a process by which a workplace can unionize if 50 percent or more of workers sign cards stating they want to be represented for collective bargaining.
Typically, workplaces unionize by having employees vote, a more complex process that presents challenges to unions.
Kinkisharyo spokesman Coby King said the two sides are discussing what kind of additional environmental reports, if any, would be needed to move forward with either a new manufacturing plant or expanding Kinkisharyo’s current operations in hangar space in Palmdale leased from Los Angeles World Airports.
“If neither of those options work out, we’ll continue to look out of state, but we’re hoping that won’t be necessary,” said King, chief executive of High Point Strategies, a Los Angeles public affairs and media relations firm.
He declined comment on the card check issue.
Attempts to reach representatives of the union were not successful.
Kinkisharyo, the El Segundo-based U.S. arm of Kinki Sharyo Co. Ltd. of Osaka, was awarded a contract in August 2012 from Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, for rail cars that would operate on the Blue, Gold and Expo lines and a planned extension of the Expo line to Los Angeles International Airport. It has previously supplied rail cars for projects in Dallas, Phoenix and other U.S. cities.
Kinkisharyo is currently doing final assembly work on 78 light rail cars for Metro in the LAWA hangars, with delivery of the first car expected this month.
The proposed $50 million permanent plant would be used to assemble an additional 97 light rail cars for Metro, and any orders the company receives from other U.S. customers. The work goes beyond final assembly to include manufacturing the car shells.