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UAW Says Hyundai Dealer Pickets About Korean Workers, Not U.S.

The United Auto Workers’s protest at U.S. Hyundai Motor Co. dealerships today is to show support for Korean workers, not to target the automaker’s U.S. employees for a membership drive, a union spokeswoman said.

“This has nothing to do with the domestic organizing campaign,” Michele Martin, a UAW spokeswoman, said in an interview. “Hyundai is not the target.”

UAW President Bob King has said he planned to organize the U.S. operations of one international automaker this year. King said in March that restoring the union’s bargaining clout depends on organizing non-union factories of automakers such as Hyundai and Toyota Motor Corp. It now appears the UAW won’t achieve that goal this year, Martin said.

“At this point, our hope is to make a decision about who we’re going to target by the end of the year,” Martin said. “But obviously, we won’t have the organizing campaign completed by the end of the year.”

Regional UAW representatives have been training union members on how to conduct informational picket campaigns at the showrooms of international automakers, Martin said. The union has not yet said which dealers will be targeted for the campaign, though UAW Vice President Joe Ashton said Nov. 21, “we’re very close to doing that.”

The UAW’s membership increased last year by 6 percent to 376,612, according to a March 31 filing with the U.S. Labor Department. After its first annual membership gain in six years, the Detroit-based UAW would have to almost quadruple in size to return to its 1979 peak of more than 1.5 million members.

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