JMA: Rob Yen
Civil Rights Leaders, Labor Unions and Community Coalitions Demand Hyundai Raise Standards in Wake of Child Labor Scandals and Construction Worker Death
Coalition of Alabama, Georgia Groups Calls on Hyundai to Commit to High-Road Jobs and Community Benefits in their U.S. Supply Chain
Alabama, August 27, 2023 – In response to growing concerns about Hyundai’s impact on local communities, labor and community leaders joined across Alabama and Georgia to call on Hyundai Motor America CEO José Muñoz to negotiate a binding Community Benefits Agreement that ensures good jobs while addressing local community needs at Hyundai, Kia and their supply chains. The groups said in a letter to Muñoz that the agreement would help build lasting prosperity for local communities by creating high-road commitments to workers and ensuring accountability measures are in place to uphold safety and labor standards.
The letter comes in the wake of alarming reports of child labor, including at a Hyundai subsidiary in Alabama that employed children as young as 12 years old, as well as the death of a construction worker at the Metaplant site in Georgia. The U.S. Department of Labor is currently conducting investigations into two Hyundai suppliers for child labor exploitation.
Of further concern, Hyundai is accepting billions of dollars in state and federal tax incentives to expand U.S. operations without providing any binding commitment on adhering to workers’ basic rights.
The letter states: “Hyundai will ultimately employ more than 30,000 workers in the US, directly or through joint venture partners with its plants in Alabama and Georgia. Hyundai also has a vast supply chain that includes more than 60 plants and many more workers in both states. These facilities will transform our communities, and we are faced with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that this transformation is for the best. We are deeply concerned about Hyundai’s recent track record with child labor in the supply chain in the US; allegations of immigrant rights abuses and racial discrimination against suppliers; use of prison labor by suppliers, and retention of an irresponsible contractor in the building of the metaplant.”
“Taking advantage of children and placing them in harm’s way must stop, and as a coalition partner, we will continue to fight until this practice ends. A Community Benefits Agreement can be the structure for real solutions to the problem,” says Scott Douglas, Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, and member of the Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits.
Fellow coalition member Jobs to Move America’s co-executive director Erica Iheme adds, “In Alabama, we have seen a boom in companies coming in and setting up manufacturing facilities due to the generous tax incentives. What we don’t see enough of is these same companies working with the communities to ensure their presence will benefit workers and the local economy. This has to change and the Community Benefits Agreement is a good start.”
The letter, which calls for Hyundai CEO Muñoz to meet with the coalition in the next few weeks to discuss a Community Benefits Agreement that would ultimately boost the company and the communities it serves, closes by asking that the company work with community groups to ensure a commitment to high-road jobs that will benefit the states of Alabama and Georgia for years to come.
About the Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits
The Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits is a coalition of labor, community, civil rights, faith, and environmental justice groups working to hold corporations that do business in the South accountable to workers and communities.