- Autoworkers at the Hyundai Motor Group assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, are pushing to join the United Auto Workers, the union announced Thursday.
- More than 30% of the plant’s 3,800 employees — over 1,100 autoworkers — signed union authorization cards, the press release says.
- Autoworkers at the plant filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Hyundai in December, alleging union-busting activities.
The union drive at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant is part of a broader UAW organizing effort covering almost 150,000 autoworkers at 13 companies. More than 10,000 non-union autoworkers employed by the Volkswagen Group in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Mercedes-Benz Group in Vance, Alabama, have signed union cards since the union drive started in November, according to the UAW.
Following the UAW’s deal with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis in November, Hyundai Motor Group announced it would raise wages 25% for production workers in Alabama and its forthcoming electric vehicle factory in Georgia by 2028. The pay changes started to take effect last month. Other automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., also raised wages as more non-union autoworkers began organizing to join the UAW.
In their unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, autoworkers at Hyundai’s Alabama plant accused managers of confiscating, destroying or prohibiting pro-union materials from non-work areas. In a UAW press release, some autoworkers said working at the plant had taken a toll on their bodies and accused managers of forcing them to work through injuries.
“When you’re injured, management pushes you back on the line too soon,” said Peggy Howard, an assembly worker at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, in a statement. “I had surgery on my rotator cuff in September and I had to go back to work the last of December. I didn’t get the two weeks ramp up and now I’m having pains over again. I had a cortisone injection three weeks ago and I’m about to go back for another injection. If that doesn’t work, the doctor told me he’ll have to do the surgery over again. We need to make our jobs safer; we need the union.”
A Hyundai spokesperson described the state of the company’s labor relations differently.
“As we would with any important issue that could affect [Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s] team members’ careers and how we work together, [Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama] is providing factual and balanced information as part of an ongoing, respectful dialogue about union representation,” a Hyundai spokesperson told Automotive Dive in an emailed statement. “It’s important that team members hear all perspectives on this issue so that they can make an informed decision about what is right for them and their families.”
The spokesperson also said the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant is one of “the safest automotive assembly plants in the United States.”
Unions often announce when 30% of a workforce sign union authorization cards because it “is the minimum percentage required to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a recognition election,” Stephen Silvia, a professor at American University and author of “The UAW’s Southern Gamble,” told Automotive Dive in December.
Hyundai’s Alabama assembly plant manufactures several models, including the Elantra sedan, Santa Fe and Tucson crossovers, the Santa Cruz compact pickup and the Genesis Electrified GV70 SUV. The plant can produce up to 390,000 vehicles annually, according to the automaker.