When there was labor unrest in South Africa, the UAW was quick to spend union dues for a long trip to the scenic South African locale, ostensibly to show their solidarity with South African union brothers who, coincidentally, fought against Mercedes and Volkswagen. Back home, the UAW pulled a whole packet of race cards. It headlines, a bit strenuously: “South Africans have more rights than workers in Mississippi.”
It would have been more a propos if the UAW would have flown to South Korea to show solidarity with workers who are about to go on strike against GM, the company, ooops, that is partially owned by the UAW.
“General Motors Corp has told its South Korean labor union it has no plans to produce the next-generation Aveo small car at its key Asian base for the time being, prompting the union to threaten strike action,” Reuters writes today.
Workers were told by Sergio Rocha, head of GM Korea, that the new Aveo/Sonic will be made in China and the United States, and that South Korea could possibly produce the model two years after its launch.
GM and its South Korean unions are in wage talks, and GM has made many not so subtle hints that it might reduce its South Korean presence if workers don’t fall in line. Instead, the Korean unions now threaten strike:
“Should there be no change in the company’s stance, the labor union will be able to launch strike action – our biggest legal weapon.”
The acrimonious, and often militant labor disputes in South Korea are being steadfastly ignored by the UAW. In the last month, the UAW’s website did not mention “Korea” once, if Google is to be believed. It’s easy to show solidarity with “our brothers and sisters in South Africa.” It seems to come a bit harder when the union brothers and sisters threaten strike against a company you partially own.