UAW will have a tough time unionizing Hyundai, exec says

UAW will have a tough time unionizing Hyundai, exec says

Automotive News | December 9, 2011 – 3:57 pm EST

SEOUL (Reuters) — Hyundai Motor’s vice chairman said it would be difficult for the UAW to unionize workers at the South Korean automaker’s plant in the United States.

Hyundai factory workers in Alabama do not see the need to join the UAW because Hyundai gives them stable jobs, said Yoon Yeo-cheol, who is in charge of Hyundai’s labor relations.

“It will not be easy (for UAW to unionize Hyundai workers). Hyundai employees there don’t like it,” he told reporters in Seoul.

Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Ala., employs more than 2,500 people and produces the Elantra and Sonata sedans. Hyundai’s South Korean sister company Kia Motors also has an assembly plant in West Point, Ga.

UAW President Bob King has said he wants to target a Japanese, South Korean or German automaker with U.S. plants in its campaign to unionize workers at plants of non-U.S. automakers.

The UAW protested at more than 80 Hyundai dealerships in the United States last week in support of a South Korean woman who filed a sexual harassment claim against one of the automaker’s suppliers.

“This has nothing to do with the domestic organizing campaign,” Michele Martin, a UAW spokeswoman, said at the time. “Hyundai is not the target.”

The UAW earlier this week said it had changed plans and decided it would not pick a specific company to organize in the United States.

The UAW’s membership increased last year by 6 percent to 376,612, according to a March 31 filing with the U.S. Labor Department. After its first annual membership gain in six years, the UAW would have to almost quadruple in size to return to its 1979 peak of more than 1.5 million members.

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