(en) Hyundai latest news: 12/11

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 01:26:10 -0700

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 22:40:35 -0800 (PST) To: CLR All Campaigns e-mail list <clr@igc.org> From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Hyundai latest news: 12/11

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HAN YOUNG TO REINSTATE WORKERS: Han Young management came to the hunger strikers' tent today. Apparently bowing to pressure from Hyundai Precision America, Han Young promised to: * Rehire all of the fired workers * Pay back wages to fired workers from their dates of termination * Pay full indemnity to any workers who choose not to return While none of these promises was made in writing, Han Young made the same commitments publicly to the press.

UNION RECOGNITION UNCERTAIN: Han Young management were less forthcoming on the question of recognizing the independent union, STIMAHCS (a branch of the FAT). Han Young is now talking about holding a new union certification election. Such an offer might seem a face-saving maneuver, to avoid having to admit that the labor board's nullification of the October 6 election was a clear injustice. However, there is reason to suspect that Han Young management have dirty tricks up their sleeves. In other quarters, Han Young has started publicizing that it has 90-some worker signatures requesting representation by one of the PRI-controlled unions. It does have signatures. However, these are the papers that the workers had to sign the week before the union election, when Han Young management called workers into the office, one at a time, to sign a paper stating which way they intended to vote on October 6. Under such circumstances, of course the workers wrote that they were voting for the PRI union. Then, in the actual election, an overwhelming majority showed their true allegiance for STIMAHCS. It would seem that the new-election strategy was cooked up in yesterday's meeting between Han Young management, the owners' association and Baja state government officials. The Han Young workers will meet tonight to discuss the offer for a new union election.

HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES: As of today, the three Han Young hunger strikers have entered the fourth week of their juice-only fast. Concerns for their well-being are increasing. The continuing fast takes place against the backdrop of the holiday season.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Communications works, in cooperation with the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, has announced a press conference, scheduled for Tuesday morning, December 16 at the Baja California state government offices. Among those planning to be in attendance are: religious leaders from both sides of the border and the three hunger strikers.

NAO, ETC.: Several parties already have jointly filed an NAO complaint about the Han Young situation. This is the procedure established in the labor side agreement under NAFTA. This is a slow-moving mechanism and, anyway, lacking in real teeth. However, behind the scenes, it appears that the Mexican government is feeling pressure from several sectors in the U.S. government. Han Young became a kind of reverse poster child for NAFTA during the debate over "fast track." Han Young remains an embarrassment - and a growing one - for free trade boosters in the Clinton administration. Several players, some of whom could care less about labor rights, want the image problems stemming from the Han Young situation to go away with all due speed.

ANALYSIS: Han Young management are caught between two forces. On one side, Hyundai Precision America appears to have pushed Han Young into rehiring the workers and also appears to be pushing Han Young to recognize the independent union. Hyundai Precision, in turn, was pressured into taking these positions because of the escalating consumer boycott of Hyundai Motors. On the other side, the industry association and its ally, the Baja California state government, have an enormous stake in preventing independent unions from getting a foothold in the Tijuana area. The Baja state government and the industry association can put real pressure on Han Young. There is little overt evidence that the Mexican federal government, in the person of President Ernesto Zedillo, has weighed in clearly on either side of this struggle. For international solidarity, the message seems clear: We should increase our pressure on both Hyundai Motors and Zedillo. Hyundai Precision can still increase its leverage on Han Young, through cutting back on production orders (which it reportedly already is threatening to do). Even though the federal and state governments are in the hands of different parties (Zedillo, PRI and Baja Governor Teran Teran, PAN), Zedillo has the muscle to turn things around for union certification. THIS IS NO TIME FOR US TO LET UP ON OUR PRESSURE!!!

REQUESTED ACTIONS (same as in most recent previous alert): 1) Keep up the pressure on Hyundai by leafleting at Hyundai Motors dealerships, especially during this next week. Leaflet, below, includes letter to Zedillo.

2) Send faxes to Mexican President Zedillo today! See letter, below. During leafleting, please collect signatures on the letter; and mail ASAP to the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, 3909 Centre Street, #210, San Diego, CA 92103.

New leaflet and letter:

Three Workers Have Put Their Lives on the Line!

Three men are still on a hunger strike which they began on November 20. They worked in a factory in Tijuana, Mexico that produces tractor trailers for Hyundai. They were illegally fired because of their efforts to form a union. Workers at the factory are being burned on a daily basis, losing their vision and suffering broken bones because of a lack of health and safety protection. The pay for many is less than $4 a day.

The union won by an overwhelming majority, despite company attempts to steal the election by busing in illegal voters. Nevertheless, the Mexican government refused to certify the vote and the company is threatening to replace all union supporters.

Hyundai Motors and the branch of Hyundai in Tijuana which manufactures tractor trailers are both part of the same huge Korean-based conglomerate. Please:

Support the boycott of Hyundai Motors, to pressure the Tijuana branch of Hyundai to halt its repression against union organizing. For more information, contact Campaign for Labor Rights at CLR@igc.apc.org or (541) 344-5410.

Sign the following letter to Mexican President Zedillo:

Ernesto Zedillo President of Mexico Fax: 011-525-271-1764

Dear President Zedillo:

Events taking place in Tijuana in the state of Baja California are tarnishing the reputation of government in all of Mexico. In violation of Mexican labor law, workers at the Han Young factory, producing for the Hyundai corporation, have been denied their right to the union of their choice. Even while acknowledging that an overwhelming majority of the Han Young workers voted for an independent union, the Tijuana labor board nullified the election!

It appears that the chief agent resisting these workers' right to a union is the state government of Baja California, acting on behalf of the industry association. I urge you to intervene in this travesty of justice, to prevent the state government from further violations of the law.

The outcome of events at Han Young/Hyundai could affect future trade relations between the United States and Mexico. I will be following this situation closely.


BUMPER STICKERS: "Boycott Hyundai" bumper stickers. Printed in a union shop. $1.00 each or $6.00 for 10. Add $2.50 per order for shipping and handling. Order from: Labor/Community Alliance, P.O. Box 5077, Fresno Ca 93755. Questions? Call (209) 226-0477 or email CLR2@igc.apc.org.

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