Originally created 01/16/97

Jesse Jackson calls off boycott of Mitsubishi



NEW YORK - The Rev. Jesse Jackson today called off his boycott of Mitsubishi dealers because the company agreed to improve working conditions for minority and female workers at its assembly plant in Illinois.

Mitsubishi has made "a commitment worth well over $200 million that will set new standards and challenges for foreign imports," Jackson said at a news conference today.

Mitsubishi has made a commitment "to end the hostile workplace environment for women and people of color, to pursue vigorously the resolution of this sex and race harassment crisis in Normal, Ill.," Jackson said.

He was joined at the news conference by Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, who called Mitsubishi's agreement "an important breakthrough from an adversarial position to partnership."

Jackson said earlier he believes the agreement "will be a breakthrough and could set the pace for the rest of the market."

Mitsubishi Executive Vice President Kohei Ikuta said the company has initiated a comprehensive sexual harassment training program. All of Mitsubishi's 4,200 employees will take the day-long program over the next few weeks.

Jackson organized the boycott of Mitsubishi dealers last May after lawsuits were filed against the company's U.S. manufacturing subsidiary alleging sexual harassment of female workers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class-action lawsuit alleging Mitsubishi allowed men to fondle, proposition and threaten female workers at its plant in Normal. In addition, 29 women filed a private lawsuit making similar claims.

The company formally denied the allegations, while acknowledging that some women were harassed. It has said managers responded to complaints and fired 10 people.