The United Auto Workers protested at more than 75 Hyundai Motor Co. dealerships — about 10 percent of the company’s U.S. locations — over the firing of a contract worker in South Korea. The UAW demanded the reinstatement of a contract worker at Hyundai’s Asan facility in South Korea, who was terminated for reporting sexual harassment, the union said.
”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 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 the worker and hold the offender responsible. The worker filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the Korean National Human Rights Commission in 2010, which ruled in her favor.
After Hyundai’s subcontractor refused to comply with the commission’s ruling, the worker began a demonstration in the capital, where she has been holding vigil since June 22, the UAW said.
“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.”
The UAW hasn’t yet selected a target for its organizing effort to unionize auto workers at foreign automakers operating assembly plants in the United States. But King has warned the UAW has no future without organizing the transplants.
”If we don’t organize these transnationals, I don’t think there’s a long term future for the UAW — I really don’t,” King said in January.