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UAW approves new contract with Mitsubishi

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) _ United Auto Workers Local 2488 has approved a 31-month contract with Mitsubishi Motors North America, union officials said.

Local president Ralph Timan, who called the new pact ``a major victory for our members,'' said 77 percent of the local members voted in favor of the deal Sunday. The Normal factory makes Mitsubishi's Eclipse, Galant and Endeavor models.

Timan said wages will increase during each year of the contract and employee benefits, such as health care and retirement, will not change until its expiration on March 27, 2008.

Mitsubishi officials also welcomed the ratification vote, saying the contract sends a message that the UAW and Mitsubishi officials are working together to position the company for long-term success.

``This new agreement will help guarantee a climate of economic certainty for our employees, our plant, and our community, and allow us to continue focusing on building world-class quality vehicles for our customers,'' said Jerry Berwanger, MMNA executive vice president and chief operating officer.

UAW officials would not disclose specific details about the new contract Sunday, but a pamphlet obtained by The (Bloomington) Pantagraph indicated that workers' base wages will rise by 2 percent in 2006 and 3 percent in 2007.

Including cost-of-living adjustments, production workers who currently are paid $25.16 an hour will earn $29.52 by the expiration of the contract.

The UAW represents some 2,800 workers at Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, including 1,000 who were laid off last fall when declining sales forced a cutback from two daily shifts to one. Workers at the plant had been without a contract since Thursday night when their previous deal expired.
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