Detroit, MI – Months after reports first appeared about multiple incidents of child labor at their suppliers in Alabama, Hyundai Motors is addressing the problem publicly. Their solution appears to be to sever ties with suppliers SMART (a company that is majority-owned by Hyundai) and SL Alabama which will likely result in job losses for hundreds of workers, without doing anything to address what appears to be a systemic problem. By abandoning these workers, the company – which has received millions of dollars in subsidies – has effectively walked away from a problem without any regard to the consequences of their actions.
“Hyundai’s actions are punishing the very workers who came forward to put an end to child labor,” says UAW President Ray Curry. “By severing ties with these Alabama suppliers, hundreds of workers in these plants will likely lose their jobs, creating a crisis for workers, their families and their communities – without doing anything to fix the problem.”
“The people of Alabama deserve quality, family-sustaining, union jobs in auto. Jobs they can depend on,” adds UAW Region 8 Director Mitchell Smith. “We call on Hyundai’s Global Chief Operating Officer, Jose Munoz to rescind his decision to cut ties with their suppliers, and instead come to Alabama, meet with auto workers and the community, and agree to improve working conditions for the U.S. workers who make Hyundai vehicles.”
The UAW is also calling on the Biden Administration to ensure that Hyundai Motors does not receive any subsidies, loans or other support from U.S. taxpayers until the company commits to work with the community to remedy workplace problems, agrees to a monitoring mechanism, and establishes highroad workplace practices that will benefit workers and the communities in which they live. Hyundai is lobbying to loosen the rules on the consumer tax credit that requires autos to be made in America. “President Biden has said that transition to a green economy must result in quality jobs for American workers. We could not agree more. Hyundai’s use of child labor in their U.S. supply chain should immediately disqualify them from taxpayer subsidies,” adds UAW President Ray Curry.
Over 20 community and labor groups in Alabama have called on Hyundai to allow for third party monitoring of their factories and suppliers and to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the community that would ensure high-road job standards at Hyundai and their suppliers.
“That is what a real solution to the critical problem of child labor looks like,” says President Curry. “Hyundai’s proposed solution is just an attempt at face-saving. We call on Hyundai to do better.”
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