NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Members of the United Autoworkers union went on strike early Friday at a Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America plant in Illinois that makes Mitsubishi, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles.|
The plant in Bloomington and Normal, Ill., was idled by the strike that started at 1:30 a.m. Central Time (2:30 a.m. ET), just after a midnight contract expiration. The plant makes the Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe and Eclipse Spyder convertible, as well as the Japanese automaker's Galant four-door sedan. It also makes the Chrysler Sebring coupe and Dodge Stratus coupe.
The strike is by UAW Local 2488, which represents 2,700 of the 3,150 workers at the plant, which opened in 1988 as a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. This is the first strike at the plant.
The Dodge Stratus, one of the vehicles made at the Mitsubishi plant struck by the UAW early Friday.|
UAW officials said that the union had been in negotiations with the company since June 20, and that it will continue to meet with management to seek a contract. The UAW statement did not detail its demands.
Mitsubishi issued a statement saying that talks resumed Friday morning and that it hoped for an early resolution of the issues.
Last year German-American automaker DaimlerChrysler (DCX: up $1.09 to $47.01, Research, Estimates) bought a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi, the fourth-largest Japanese automaker.
Mitsubishi has been going through a restructuring as it attempts to return to profitability. It plans to cut 9,500 jobs worldwide by 2004. But there are no cuts planned at the Illinois plant, said Dan Irvin, a company spokesman.
The company has been hit with a number of quality problems in recent year, including a recall of about 1 million vehicles made in the Illinois plant in February. In June, Consumer Reports termed its Montero Limited "unacceptable" after the magazine said it was prone to rollover in case of emergency maneuvers, a charge the automaker denies.
Mitsubishi also was forced to admit it hid customer complaints from Japan's Transport Ministry over the course of more than two decades. The scandal led to the recall of hundreds of thousands of additional vehicles, the resignation of the company's president and tighter controls of the company by DaimlerChrysler.