Feb 01 2024
Montgomery, Ala. — Workers at Hyundai’s sole U.S. plant, in Montgomery, Alabama, have announced a major milestone in their campaign to join the UAW, with over 30% of autoworkers at the plant having signed union cards.
In a new video, “Montgomery Can’t Wait,” Hyundai workers speak out on the ties between the union movement at the Korean automaker and the civil rights legacy of “Montgomery, the city where Rosa Parks sat down, and where thousands of Hyundai workers are ready to Stand Up.”
The video announcing the campaign can be accessed here, and the media is invited to use the footage. More information on the campaign is available at uaw.org/hyundai.
“I’m getting close to retirement and the company has literally broken me down,” said Drena Smith, a team member who has spent most of her 19 years at Hyundai in the paint shop and has had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders and carpal tunnel surgery in one hand. “We need compensation for that when we retire. Not just a cake and a car discount for a car we can’t afford to buy because we won’t have any income. We need a real retirement; we need to win our union.”
“My oldest son works at the plant, over on General Assembly (GA),” said Dewayne Naylor, who currently does Body Shop Quality Control. “I went through 14 years in GA and I know what it’ll do to your body over there. I don’t want the younger generation to go through what we did. Over the last ten years, most of my raises have been just 12 or 13 cents an hour. The price of their cars, they go up every year. But my pay don’t. If we don’t get the union here, our pay will never keep up.”
“I was a temp at Hyundai from 2014 to 2017. I made $11.03 an hour the entire time,” said Ronald Terry, a team member on Final 3 and 5 in General Assembly. “They kept saying, just wait a little longer, you’ll make it to full time. I finally did, but the pay is still mediocre. With the union, we can bring our pay and benefits up to a higher standard. That’s how you motivate your workers. It’s not just good for us, it’s good for the product we produce.”
“When you’re injured, management pushes you back on the line too soon," said Peggy Howard, who works on F1 Final in General Assembly. "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.”
“Here’s when I knew we needed the union," said Quichelle Liggins, a Quality Inspector at Hyundai. "My youngest son had a basketball game and I scheduled a half day of vacation time. Someone was supposed to come to the line to relieve me, but no one came. Finally, I clocked out and I missed the first quarter of his game. They still wanted to write me up for job abandonment. I had to go in front of team relations, and I explained what happened, that I was legit in having this personal day. And my group leader stopped me and said this job is more important than your family. At that moment, I just froze. That was sickening. I knew things at Hyundai had gone too far.”
The announcement marks the third major breakthrough in the national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three auto companies. Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Mercedes in Vance, Alabama, while workers at over two dozen other facilities continue to organize.
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