LOS ANGELES – Business leaders and elected officials from the Antelope Valley met with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich on Monday to ask for the Governor’s help to prevent the loss of a $60 million rail plant in Palmdale.
Kinkisharyo International announced last week that it was pulling its plans to build a 400,000-square-foot rail car plant in Palmdale after legal challenges filed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Antonovich denounced the legal challenges as “frivolous” and said opponents were exploiting California’s environmental laws to prevent the construction of a facility that was expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and nearly 200 permanent high-paying jobs once completed.
“What’s needed is a direct intervention by the Governor with his friends in labor as well as comprehensive reform of CEQA laws to prevent further abuses from sending prospective businesses to other states like Texas or Arizona,” Antonovich said in a released statement. “The loss of jobs for union and non-union workers, resulting from the reckless abuse of CEQA to strong-arm Kinkisharyo, threatens the economic viability of Los Angeles County and the state of California to retain and attract business from all corners of the world.”
Antonovich called on Governor Brown to intervene in Palmdale’s dilemma with Kinkisharyo to prevent a message being sent to other businesses that are considering similar investments in Los Angeles County.
However, Madeline Janis, Director of Jobs to Move America— a coalition of more than 40 community, labor and environmental groups – denied that environmental legal action or other union activities were to blame for Kinkisharyo’s decision to pull out of Palmdale.
“It’s time for Kinkisharyo International, a company with almost $1 billion in taxpayer funds, to stop blaming others for its failures and meet its commitment to create good, green Los Angeles County jobs,” Janis said in response to Monday’s press conference.
Janis said that Kinkisharyo’s nearly $1 billion contract is funded entirely by taxpayers, with much of it directly from Los Angeles voters who approved Measure R in 2008 to support good jobs and a cleaner transportation system in Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles public officials ought to hold Kinkisharyo to its obligations to taxpayers, rather than blaming labor unions for the company’s failures,” Janis said. “Despite Kinkisharyo’s failure to build this Palmdale factory, Angelenos want the company to meet its obligation to create hundreds of good LA jobs on this contract in a safe and healthy way.”
But union workers representing the building trades were also in attendance at the press conference, speaking in support of Kinksharyo, according to John Mlynar, Palmdale Communications Manager. Mlynar said that union groups included the Ironworkers Local 433, the Plumbers Local 78 and Carpenters Local 803.
Other officials participating at Monday’s press conference in Los Angeles include Palmdale’s Mayor Jim Ledford and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Lackey, David Flaks from the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation, Gary Toebben from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, and Carol Schatz from the Central City Association.
About the authorJim E. Winburn is freelance reporter covering news of public interest. –
Previous related stories: