A 4-year contract that implements pay cuts for current Mitsubishi Motors North America workers and establishes a 2-tier wage structure for new hires wins ratification by a narrow margin.

Meanwhile, MMNA guarantees production will continue through 2012 at its assembly plant in Normal, IL. “That was the trade-off,” says Ralph Timan, president of United Auto Workers union Local 2488, which represents 1,200 MMNA employees.

Of the workers to cast ballots, 54% approved the deal, while 46% were opposed, says a terse posting on the UAW local’s website.

Marked by the rejection of an earlier MMNA offer, and a subsequent 18-day bargaining hiatus, Timan tells Ward’s the talks were the toughest he’s ever experienced.

Says MMNA Manufacturing President and CEO Shiro Futaki: “We are extremely pleased with this agreement. For our customers and dealers, the agreement underscores in no uncertain terms that Mitsubishi Motors is committed to being competitive and successful in the U.S. market.”

The ratification comes on the heels of mixed September sales. Mitsubishi car deliveries fell 12.5%, according to Ward’s data, but those results were offset by a 1.1% uptick in sales of the auto maker’s highest-volume product, the Normal-built, refreshed-for-’09 Galant sedan.

However, light-truck demand plunged 68.8%.