China's electric vehicle manufacturer BYD Coach & Bus signed a labor contract with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union (SMART) Local 105 on Thursday.
This is the first collective bargaining agreement for the electric bus industry in the United States.
BYD, which means "Build Your Dream," is the world's largest manufacturer of battery-electric vehicles for three consecutive years as well as the largest manufacturer of battery-electric buses in North America.
SMART is one of North America's most dynamic and diverse unions with 216,000 members found in 2008, and Local 105 is one of its sub-unions that serves Los Angeles.
The contract will last three years and creates a jointly controlled employee-training fund to help employees acquire and strengthen the necessary skills for working in high-technology green manufacturing.
"Over the years, BYD has endeavored to perfect its people-oriented management and build up a corporate culture based on equality, prudence, passion, innovation. In addition to good working conditions, BYD also cares for the further education of our employees," Stella Li, president of BYD North America, told Xinhua.
"Today's agreement is a turning point in American clean-technology manufacturing, demonstrating that partnerships like this can drive progress for the economy, the environment and working families," said Macy Neshati, Senior Vice President of BYD at the signing ceremony.
The agreement approved by SMART Local 105 in January provides competitive wages, good benefits, expanded training opportunities and stronger worker protections to union members.
Los Angeles County supervisor Hilda Solis, the former U.S. secretary of labor, said at the ceremony "this is in fact the American Dream, this is what our families strive for here in Los Angeles, so I want to give a shout out to BYD."
"We were criticized by the local advocacy groups when we first arrived in Los Angeles," Li told Xinhua. "Then they realized that we hold the same common goal to benefit employees. BYD is part of the community; therefore, we would like to take responsibility and payback to the community."
BYD last year also signed a community benefits agreement and is committed to hiring workers facing significant barriers to employment.