Following a six-week-long targeted strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis last year, the United Auto Workers (UAW) reached a tentative agreement on a new master contract that involves the typical pay raises and benefits revamp, coupled with some major investments on The Blue Oval’s part. The new deal was officially ratified by Ford workers a few weeks later, prompting a number of non-union automakers with U.S. plants to give their workers raises. Regardless, the UAW has since set its sights on organizing those companies – mounting card-signing efforts at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama and the Volkswagen facility in Tennessee – and now, those efforts have expanded to include Hyundai as well.
The UAW has announced that over 30 percent of the workers at the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama have now signed a union authorization card, joining the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz and VW plants in that regard. Over the past few months, the UAW has secured around 10,000 such cards in total.
“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.”
“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.”