About 30 United Auto Workers members and supporters marched to Hyundai's North American headquarters in Fountain Valley as their comrades hit 23 dealerships around the country Thursday to deliver a letter addressed to President and CEO David Zuchowski that accuses the South Korean automaker of providing low wages and unsafe work conditions.
Hyundai is celebrating 10 years of operation in the U.S. as federal regulators cracked down on one of the automaker's major suppliers in Selma, Ala., for attempting to silence workers speaking out about getting sick on the job, the UAW points out. The union also points to dozens and dozens of federal health and safety violations at 24 major Hyundai suppliers operating near its factory in Montgomery, Ala.
Hyundai issued a statement Thursday saying, "The health and safety of workers associated with the manufacturing of Hyundai vehicles is paramount. Our contracts with suppliers require them to be in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations."
But the UAW also criticized Hyundai suppliers for only paying an average $9.07 an hour–barely above the minimum–according to a recent survey.
"Investing in a car is a huge deal for someone my age, and I'm not willing to throw my money at a company that treats its workers like they are invisible," said Johnson Pham, a UC Riverside student, before heading over to Fountain Valley. "Hyundai has the power to pay decent wages and protect its workers on the job, and it's time the company realizes that these problems are increasingly important for people in my generation making the decision to buy a car."
Besides California, UAW delegations fanned out to Hyundai facilities in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Virginia.