Latest Solidarity Issue

American autoworkers call for reinstatement of Hyundai worker in South Korea

11/30/11

Korean auto union calls on UAW and other unions for global dealership action

DETROIT - Today UAW members across the United States showed their solidarity at Hyundai Motor Co. dealerships to demand the reinstatement of Ms. Park, a contract (“temp”) worker for a subcontractor at Hyundai’s Asan facility in South Korea who was terminated for reporting sexual harassment.

Holding banners that read, “Stop Sex Discrimination at Hyundai” and “Reinstate Ms. Park,” UAW members from Los Angeles to New York, at more than 75 different dealerships, informed American auto buyers about an injustice to an autoworker on the other side of the globe.

“Though we may work for different companies and in different countries, as workers, we support each other’s struggles and know that one of the best ways to hold our employers accountable is through consumer action at dealerships,” said Mike O'Rourke, an 33-year employee and president of UAW Local 1853 at General Motors’ Manufacturing Facility in Spring Hill, Tenn.

The Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) called upon autoworkers and their unions to participate in the Global Day of Action by standing in front of Hyundai dealerships in their home countries and demanding that the company direct its subcontractor to reinstate Ms. Park and hold the offender responsible. With the help of the KMWU, Ms. Park filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea in 2010. In response, Hyundai’s subcontractor fired Ms. Park for “harming the company’s reputation.”

The commission ruled in favor of Ms. Park, finding that the retaliatory discharge was illegal. It also ordered the company to pay damages and hold the perpetrator responsible. When Hyundai’s subcontractor refused to comply with the commission’s ruling, Ms. Park began a demonstration in the capital, where she has been holding vigil since June 22, 2011.

“The UAW has embraced a global vision of social justice and will mobilize its membership to defend labor rights here and in other parts of the world,” said UAW President Bob King.

“We stand in solidarity with our sister in Korea, the KMWU and with workers’ movements which challenge employers who try to silence workers who have the courage to challenge workplace injustice,” added King.