© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign shows directions to the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama automobile plant in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. July 15, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Schneyer/File Photo
By David Shepardson
(Reuters) – The United Auto Workers (UAW) said on Thursday that more than 30% of workers at Hyundai Motor (OTC:)’s Alabama plant had signed cards seeking to join the union.
In November, the UAW said it was launching a first-of-its-kind push to publicly organize the entire non-union auto sector in the U.S. after winning record new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers.
The UAW has for decades unsuccessfully sought to organize auto factories operated by foreign automakers.
The Detroit-based UAW in November announced simultaneous campaigns by workers at 13 nonunion automakers to join the union. Those automakers employ nearly 150,000 workers at their U.S. assembly plants, about the same number as those employed by the Detroit Three companies that signed new labor agreements with the UAW.
A Hyundai spokesperson said “the decision to be represented by a union is up to our team members” and noted in November the company said it would hike U.S. hourly production workers’ wages by 25% by 2028.
Earlier this week, the UAW said over 10,000 autoworkers in total at 13 non-union automakers had signed union cards.
The UAW has said if 30% of workers at a nonunion plant sign cards seeking to join, it would make that public.
UAW President Shawn Fain last week said workers from a variety of sectors were seeking to join beyond just automakers. He said several plants were getting close to the 30% threshold, adding “We have a lot of great momentum here.”
Fain is holding an event Thursday in the Detroit area with President Joe Biden, who has strongly backed the union’s organizing efforts.
If 50% of workers seek to join, the UAW promises to hold a rally with Fain to tout the effort. At 70% and with an organizing committee in place, the UAW would seek recognition or demand a union representation vote.
Many non-union automakers have responded by hiking pay for U.S. factory workers.
In December, the UAW said more than 30% of workers at a non-union Volkswagen (ETR:) plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee had signed authorization cards, and announced last month that more than 30% of workers at a Mercedes-Benz (OTC:) Vance, Alabama plant had done so as well.
Previous efforts to organize Nissan (OTC:) plants in Mississippi and Tennessee failed by wide margins, and two attempts to organize VW’s Tennessee plant narrowly failed.
(This story has been refiled to correct the picture)