UAW pickets at Hyundai dealerships without targeting the automaker

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United Auto Workers union flag. Image: MN AFL-CIO/Flickr/CC BY

Members of the United Auto Workers union picketed 75 Hyundai dealerships around the U.S. today, Nov. 30. While the union has announced it will soon try to organize the workers at a foreign automaker’s U.S. factory, representatives say this is not part of that push. The action comes in support of a worker who was fired in 2010.

An informational action

The action occurred from noon to 1 p.m. in the local time zones of the dealerships picketed. The action was informational only, to educate the public about the cause. It involved carrying signs and passing out leaflets.

Michele Martin, a UAW spokeswoman, said:

“This has nothing to do with the domestic organizing campaign. Hyundai is not the target.”

Wants to organize foreign plants

Bob King, the union’s president, has stated that the UAW would like to organize the workers at a foreign automaker’s plant in the U.S. as part of a push to increase membership.

Martin, however, assured the press that this was not part of that push. Although the union had planned to reach that goal by the end of the year, she says that will not happen.

“At this point, our hope is to make a decision about who we’re going to target by the end of the year. But obviously, we won’t have the organizing campaign completed by the end of the year.”

Showing solidarity

Today’s action was to show solidarity with the Korean Metal Workers Union’s support of a Korean worker who was fired for reporting sexual harassment in 2010. The worker was employed by Glovis, one of Hyundai’s subcontractors.

Membership in the UAW was at its peak of 1.5 million in 1979. By last year, that number had dwindled to 376,612.

A risky strategy

Art Schwartz, president of Labor and Economics Associates, derided the strategy. He said of Thursday’s action:

“It may just irritate the people in the plants. ‘You guys want us to join you but yet you are out making it harder to buy the vehicles I am making.’”


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