Hyundai is being investigated for child labor violations in Alabama, Georgia

Hyundai (HYMTF) is facing backlash from unions in Georgia and Alabama because the automaker is violating child labor laws. Yahoo Finance Autos reporter Pras Subramanian breaks down these developments while also explaining the latest demands in the United Auto Workers (UAW) union's negotiations with big three automakers Ford (F), General Motors (GM) and Stellantis (STLA).

Video transcript

BRAD SMITH: After a Labor Department investigation last year uncovered violations of child labor laws, Hyundai is facing pressure from groups in Alabama and Georgia over working conditions. The auto company recently invested $5.5 billion in a new electric vehicle factory in Savannah. Yahoo Finance's Pras Subramanian joins us now with more. Pras, what do we know about it so far?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, Brad, you said it, man. That means a new $5.5 billion plant is being built in Georgia, a plant for electric vehicles and batteries. But at another facility they have, I believe in Alabama, child labor law violations were investigated. So these union groups as well as labor groups, AFL-CIO, one of which says we want to make sure that there are safe working conditions in the supply chain and in the battery factory there in the new plants – I'm sorry, in Georgia.

And they say they also want livable wages. So they want to make sure these things happen. And there is a lot at stake here, as the IRA's passage created many great incentives for companies to build factories in America. Labor says, “Hey, we can't make them all UAW or union shops, but we want to make sure they have livable wages and safe working conditions – for the workers, I mean.”

When the movie came out last year, I thought it was a pretty big deal. That was surprising and eye-opening to see. How can you let children work in a car factory?


PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: But it happened.

The story goes on

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And of course, Pras, looking forward, the deadline in the ongoing battle between the UAW and the auto giants is getting closer and closer. What can you tell us about that?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, over – late last week, the UAW received strike approval from its members. There was a 97% strike vote, which is not surprising since we knew this would be the last time this would happen in 2019. The strike authorization vote was around 96%. So that basically means it gives leadership the ability to call a strike if the deal expires. The deal currently runs until September 14th. And if that happens, the Union may decide to strike or actually continue to work with the automakers to try to negotiate a deal.

So you see some of what the Union wants. We heard they want pay increases of almost 40%. They want to restore the cost of living adjustment. They want to eliminate pay levels between new and old employees. You want to define a pension plan. One of the things they also wanted was a possible four-day week. I think some people in the automotive industry are shaking their heads and saying that will never happen.

So they have a lot of big demands, big demands, because they feel that in 2008, when the unions wanted to help the automakers during the great financial crisis, they made certain compromises. Therefore, they feel that now is the time to get what they are missing. And I think we're going to see a very contentious fight between now and the 14th. But nobody knows what will happen. Maybe they'll get a deal. We will see. But at the moment the leadership is in a position to call a strike beyond September 14 if necessary.

BRAD SMITH: Alright, Pras Subramanian from Yahoo Finance. They track everything related to cars, mobility and transportation from point A to point B.


BRAD SMITH: Thank you, Pras. Am grateful.