Biden urges Hyundai, Samsung to embrace union workers

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(Bloomberg) – President Joe Biden has encouraged Hyundai Motor Company to partner with unionized U.S. workers after a meeting with the company’s chief executive.

“Any company investing in Hyundai and the United States will benefit greatly by partnering with some of the world’s most skilled, dedicated and employed employees,” Biden said in a joint statement with Hyundai’s executive chairman Yusun Chung. “And it is a member of the American Union.”

Hyundai announced Friday that it is investing $ 5.5 billion to build an EV assembly and battery plant near Savannah, Georgia.

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But Georgia is a labor rights state, meaning workers may not be required to join a union as a condition of their employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 4.8% of Georgia’s labor force was a union member in 2021.

Biden, who has promised to be the most pro-union president in U.S. history, also spoke about the benefits of union jobs in the EV industry during a visit to a Samsung facility outside Seoul on Friday.

“Every joint venture that produces electric car batteries will be strengthened by a joint bargaining relationship with the American unions,” Biden said.

Biden has set a goal of electrifying half of U.S. cars by 2030, and administration officials said earlier this month that the federal government would spend more than $ 3 billion to support the domestic production of advanced batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage.

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“Electric vehicles are good for our climate goals, but they’re also good for jobs – and they’re good for business,” Biden said Sunday.

Chung said Hyundai would invest an additional $ 5 billion by 2025 to collaborate with American enterprises in various technologies such as robotics, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and AI.

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp – who faced former Senator David Purdue in Tuesday’s GOP primary – has backed strong incentives to lure autonomous companies. Purdue is backed by former President Donald Trump.

Hyundai is investing $ 5.5 billion in Georgia EV, a battery plant

Hyundai’s sales in the United States have increased since the company converted its fleet to meet the demand of Americans for SUVs. It set a U.S. retail sales record in the first quarter after increasing deliveries by about 20% in 2021.

The company said in April that it would spend $ 300 million to expand its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, to create a hybrid version of the Santa Fe crossover and an EV for its luxury Genesis brand, the GV70, this fall.

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

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