SEOUL, Korea - Service Employees International Union, The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, and National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) on Friday urged Hyundai Motor Company shareholders on Friday to live up to their moral and corporate responsibilities and call for repeal of Alabama's racist law, HB 56.
Hyundai, Daimler AG and Honda - all major foreign auto makers in Alabama - have been asked by national labor and civil rights groups to help repeal the law which legitimizes racial profiling and threatens the state's economy, foreign visitors and immigrants, and ethnic minorities.
"Hyundai, by its refusal to act to repeal HB 56, has become complicit in human rights violations in my country," said Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, noting that Hyundai signed the United Nations Global Compact that binds international corporations to defend human rights.
"That does not make sense from a moral or corporate policy perspective; but it is also a bad business practice," Medina added. "Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in my country. We are the workers and consumers of today and of the future. Hyundai has recognized this by initiating a major marketing campaign in the Latino community. But all that will come to nothing if the Hyundai brand becomes identified with hate and discrimination. Latinos are waiting to see whether Hyundai will stand with us or with the human rights violators in Alabama."
Medina and Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference, stood before the shareholders to address the crisis in Alabama. Following the presentation, a Hyundai official said that "as a global corporation we recognize the responsibility" regarding this issue, according to a Korean news report.
"We hope that Hyundai, Daimler, and Honda will engage leaders in thoughtful conversation about taking steps to repeal this law and to work with us to accomplish this result," Henderson said. "The car companies would not be alone; our nation's courts, faith groups, agricultural industry, labor unions, and civil rights organizations have already begun this work."
Two-thirds of Korean Americans are recent immigrants and one out of every five is undocumented, making them vulnerable to laws like HB 56, said Dae Joong Yoon, NAKASEC board member.
"Not only should this new law be opposed, it should be prevented from becoming precedent for other states to follow," Yoon said. "It is important that the Hyundai stakeholders finally recognize that they are also stakeholders on what is happening in Alabama. In 2012, no corporation, be they Hyundai, Honda, or Daimler AG, can turn a blind eye to injustice and expect to practice business as usual. Consumers and Americans expect more than in the past."
Hyundai, Honda, Daimler and other international corporations' investment in Alabama spurred the state's economic growth after receiving taxpayer funded incentives to build plants there. The foreign auto makers have strong relationships with Alabama's power brokers and have a corporate responsibility to use those relationships to repeal this law. Anything less makes them complicit in the harmful impact of this law.
Following the Hyundai shareholders meeting, Korea's largest labor unions -- Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU), KMWU Hyundai Motor Branch, Korean Public Service and Transportation Workers Union (KPTU), Korean Federation of Private Service Workers Unions (KFSU and civil society groups - hosted a news conference and issued a joint statement.
"As the U.S. election approaches, 'anti-immigrant' agitation is getting more and more fierce as the right seeks to blame 'illegal immigrants' for the unemployment and poverty that have enraged the American people. As the 99% Movement that 'occupied Wall Street' has shown, however, the problem is not illegal immigrants, but the 1% that have sought to increase their wealth while making common people shoulder the entire burden of the economic crisis," according to the statement. "Hyundai Motor, join the call for repeal of the racist anti-immigrant law HB 56! Hyundai Motor, take a clear stand for a racism-free Alabama!"