By on December 1, 2015


Monday was the final day for many workers at Mitsubishi’s Normal, Illinois facility as the plant mostly shuttered operations after 27 years.

WEEK reported that roughly 900 workers finished work Monday before turning in their badges at the plant. About 300 workers will stay until May to produce parts for Mitsubishi, who announced in July that the plant would be closing.

Many of the workers told the TV station that they were too young for retirement and would be looking for work.

“I am going to have to find a job some place else,” Barbara Fisher told WEEK. “I’ll have to look for a job wherever I can find one. If I have to go out of town, I will go out of town.”

Mitsubishi said it would look to sell the plant, but no buyer has yet been announced for the facility.

According to the local union’s Facebook page, UAW representatives handed out informational packets to workers leaving the plant and the union would be holding career workshops throughout December.

The plant was started in 1988 as part of Diamond-Star motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. At its peak, the plant produced about 200,000 vehicles, but last year only produced about 70,000.


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28 Comments on “Hit The Lights On Your Way Out: Mitsubishi Closes Normal Plant After 27 Years...”

  • avatar

    Worked at a couple of plants that became ghost facilities. It’s always a depressing time. One was bulldozed and the other turned into a warehouse for stuff from China.

    One thing I noticed over 40+ years was that UAW folks working at the Detroit 3 almost NEVER quit voluntarily. Those jobs paid so well relative to the skill level it was essentially impossible to duplicate them elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      And yet, with every new contract, the UAW has to be bribed just to sign and continue to make 6 figures.

    • 0 avatar

      “Those jobs paid so well relative to the skill level it was essentially impossible to duplicate them elsewhere.”

      Which is exactly why it dumbfounds me when they threaten to strike over their wages/benefits.

      What a shame though that so many have been displaced from employment. In my career as a mechanical contractor I’ve seen a lot of factories go by the wayside. So unfortunate for the families as well as the surrounding communities.

  • avatar

    While it’s sad these people are losing their jobs, what’s not sad is the lack of product development and effort Mitsubishi has put forth in the US. What’s also not sad is the absolute CRAP produced at this facility for the last of the 1980’s, entirety of the 1990’s and entirety of the 2000’s as well.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    I wonder about the quality of cars built by workers who know they will be unemployed soon.

  • avatar

    This is what happens when the UAW organizes your transplant factory.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, it was a Chrysler and Mitsubishi joint venture in Illinois. Let’s not blame all of this on the UAW. There are plenty of incompetent parties involved.

    • 0 avatar

      “This is what happens when the UAW organizes your transplant factory.”


      Unencumbered by the UAW, Mitsu would be neck and neck with Toyota’s US sales. They’ve done everything else right!

    • 0 avatar

      The DSM venture was quite unique, this isn’t the same as UAW marching into your up and running Southern transplant in 2015.

      • 0 avatar

        This resembled NUMMI in some ways. Outcome was the same; the Detroit brand pulled the plug when it was convenient, and the Japanese brand gave up not long after. What happened to the UAW patrons that used to build Mazdas in the US? We know what happened to VW’s Pennsylvania UAW workforce.

        • 0 avatar

          The people that used to build Mazdas in the US are now building F150s, Transits, Fusions, and Mustangs. Technically only Flat Rock was an AutoAlliance factory. I’d argue that those workers are better off without the Mazda6. They are building more Mustangs, added the Fusion, and will soon be building the Continental.

          • 0 avatar

            Whether manufacturing labor is organized, and by which union really doesn’t impact vehicle design, sales or financing.

            Mitsubishi is failing in the US because the product is old, marketing is a mess and they chose to chase buyers with the lowest credit ratings.

            Sad to see these jobs lost, but it really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not up on Mazda but VW Westmoreland was a complicated situation and NUMMI shut down due to the bankruptcy. I don’t know enough about the former DSM plant to make an accurate assessment although I have no doubt UAW had a role of some kind. No matter what this role was though, MMNA had been mismanaged for fifteen years. The real story here was this:

          “The plant had been operating well below capacity for several years. In 2014, it produced just over 69,000 vehicles out of a capacity of 240,000 vehicles annually. Production will be shifted to Japan, from which Mitsubishi will import to North America instead.”

          PROD FIGURES

          1995: 218,507
          2000: 222,649
          2005: 87,791
          2010: 29,375

          A plant operating near 10% capacity in 2010 is a revenue bleeder, especially at UAW wages. I’m surprised it stayed open till now.

          • 0 avatar

            Flat Rock was originally a casting plant for V8s. Ford threw a lot of cash at it but it closed in less than a decade. Mazda built on the site in the 80s and started build MX-6s and Probes. Ford bought in with a 50% stake in the early 90s. They made the 626, Cougar, Mazda6, and Mustang before Ford divested most of it’s Mazda shares. Then AutoAlliance ceased to exist in 2012 and Ford took over the factory. Ford also added over 1000 jobs and product that sells better than the Mazda6.

  • avatar

    Our featured presentation is brought to you by: Trans Pacific Partnership. TPP is where YOU want to be!

    • 0 avatar

      TPP is NAFTA, but on a much larger and grander scale.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think you can pin this on TPP, when when people have been predicting the withdrawal of Mitsubishi from the US market completely, not just local manufacturing. They have held out longer than was probably rational, and sacrificed a foreign plant to bolster plants in their home country as all manufacturers do.

      • 0 avatar

        Of course not. But the radical right likes to blame Obama for everything.

        This is simply the case of a lousy company reducing manufacturing capacity to match reductions in revenues, i.e., the free market economy working.

        • 0 avatar

          You may find this interesting. Per the Japan Times:

          “The U.S. tariff of 2.5 percent on Japanese automobiles will start to be incrementally lowered 15 years after the agreement takes effect, halved in 20 years and elimination in 25 years.

          The United States will eliminate tariffs on more than 80 percent of auto parts imported from Japan.

          Canada will eliminate its 6.1 percent tariff on Japanese automobiles in five years and 6.0 percent duty on close to 90 percent of Japanese auto parts.”

          Per Good Car Bad Car, Canadian sales in 2014 were double those of 2004 and were 29.2% compared to US sales. So if Mitsubishi were planning to continue to increase Canadian sales, the much faster tariff elimination (five years vs twenty five in the US) and 6% parts tariff elimination on 90% parts sets up MMNA and other Japanese marques to increase sales and possibly production there. This might be a Mitsubishi strategy.

  • avatar

    While I’d love to blame China for yet another factory closure here in America, this time around I just can’t do it. Mitsubishi let this facility shrivel away. Without competitive product coming out of the plant, there was simply no way to justify its existence. My Lancer Sportback Ralliart will observe a moment of silence today…

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