(en) Han Young/Hyundai VICTORY!!!

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 07:08:27 -0700

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 02:01:28 -0800 (PST) To: clr@igc.org From: Campaign for Labor Rights <clr@igc.apc.org> Subject: Han Young/Hyundai VICTORY!!!

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Please note: job posting at end of alert.

VICTORY IN TIJUANA!!! (details tomorrow) [Information provided by staff of the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, who ask that local activists seeking updates contact Campaign for Labor Rights: (541) 344-5410, <CLR@igc.apc.org>]

Ending months of struggle, including a hunger strike which had lasted nearly four weeks, on December 16 workers at the Han Young factory in Tijuana, Mexico won official recognition of the union of their choice: STIMAHCS, a member of the independent union federation Frente Autentico de Trabajo (FAT). In the end, the outcome hinged on a new union certification election - by secret ballot (highly unusual in Mexico). The vote was: 31 for STIMAHCS; 26 for the CTM, the government union hoping to enter the scene; 2 for the CROC, the previous government union at the factory.

In spite of firings, bribes and threats, the workers persisted in their demand for an independent union. Throughout this struggle, international solidarity played a crucial role in keeping the pressure on wherever needed. U.S. activists in more than 25 cities participated.

The boycott of Hyundai Motors proved to be an especially effective part of solidarity activity. Han Young produces exclusively for Hyundai tractor trailer factories in the Tijuana area. By putting pressure on the consumer division of Hyundai, activists were able to send shock waves through the conglomerate. There are indications that Hyundai management were demanding that Han Young find a resolution to the situation. It is likely that Hyundai's cash-flow problems stemming from the currency crisis in Korea made the company particularly vulnerable to consumer pressure.

Another instance of fortuitous timing was the debate over "fast track" during the Han Young crisis. Han Young became a reverse poster child for the failure of NAFTA's labor side agreements to provide any protection for worker rights. In consultations with Mexican President Zedillo, President Clinton apparently raised Han Young as a problem case for U.S.-Mexican trade relations. During the final week before victory at Han Young, solidarity activists focused much of their pressure on Zedillo.

The Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers deserves great credit for its multiple roles in this struggle. Without it, there would not have been a victory.


* June 2, 1997: Han Young workers undertake work stoppage. Seventy-five percent have signed papers to form a union independent of government control. Workers have been "represented" by the CROC union, whose officials are not elected and who negotiate "protection contracts" with management in secret. * June 3: Company meets with new union's executive committee and promises that there will be no intervention, repression or intimidation. * June 4: Workers return to the job. * Mid-July: Company hires union busting consultant. * August 6: A member of the independent union's executive committee is fired. * August 12: Two more members of the executive committee are fired. * August 15: Han Young attorney offers $15,000 to labor advocate assisting with the workers' actions if he will sabotage their efforts. * August: Han Young hires 20 new workers from Vera Cruz. * September 3: A hearing by Tijuana labor board to set a date for a union election is nullified due to board's own minor clerical error. * September: Representatives of the government-controlled CTM union, brought into the plant by management, begin to give out free food and beer on Fridays. Management threatens that Han Young will shut down if independent union wins. * September 8: Four more workers are fired. * September 10: Workers protest illegal firings with a one-day wqrk stoppage. * September 25: At a labor board hearing to set the date for a union election, the CROC calls for suspension of proceedings on the basis that the CTM wants to file for recognition. Han Young workers demonstrate. Board receives calls from across the U.S. demanding that a date be set. After four hours, board sets a date. * September 30: Han Young manager calls workers into his office one by one, demanding that they sign a paper indicating how they will vote. Workers are told they will lose their jobs if they vote against the company. * October 1: Another worker is fired. Management tells workers that the plant will be shut down if independent union wins. * October 3: President of labor board, who had made decision to allow a union certification election, is forced to resign. * October 6: Despite intimidation and attempted fraud, overwhelming majority of workers vote for independent union. * October 6-17: Company fires four more workers and announces plan to hire 50 more workers from Vera Cruz and fire all union supporters. * October 22: U.S. consumer boycott of Hyundai begins. * November 10: Labor board announces that it will not certify the election. * November 20: Four of the fired workers begin a hunger strike, choosing to take only water with a little lemon and honey until the independent union is recognized. * November 25: One of the hunger strikers is rushed to the hospital, where doctors order him to stop the fast. * December 1: Han Young workers begin series of work stoppages. Offices of the Tijuana group coordinating local support for the workers are broken into and all papers and files are rifled. * December 12: Han Young workers, Han Young management and state government of Baja California all commit publicly to signing an agreement the next day which will result in official recognition of an independent union within 30 days. * December 13: Without offering any explanation, representative of Baja state government refuses to sign agreement. * December 15: Han Young management offer 1,000 pesos to each worker who will vote for the CTM union in a new election. * December 16: Negotiations take place between Han Young workers, Han Young management and representatives of Mexican federal government, Baja state government and Tijuana labor board. By the end of day, a majority of the workers have voted for the independent union in a new election. Government officially certifies STIMAHCS.

* * * * *

Job Opening: Communications Director/Fund Developer Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.

The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras is a tri-national coalition that pressures U.S. corporations with operations in Mexico to adopt responsible labor and environmental practices. CJM seeks a highly motivated bi-lingual activist to produce publications, lead fund-raising drives and take initiative in our office in San Antonio, TX. Contact Martha Ojeda at (210) 732-8957.

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