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American Civil Rights Leaders in Seoul, South Korea Report on Meeting With Hyundai Re: H.B. 56

by Mahwish Khan on 03/16/2012 at 5:00pm

For a few days now, we’ve been reporting on Wade Henderson’s, Eliseo Medina’s, and Dae Joong Yoon’s adventures in South Korea. The three of them took a 14 hour flight to Seoul to attend a shareholder’s meeting at Hyundai’s headquarters, where they asked Hyundai’s leadership to to take a stand against H.B. 56 in Alabama — a state in which the company has a huge manufacturing plant.  This morning, the three of them urged the corporation to call for an end to tragedy caused by Alabama’s anti-immigrant law on a press call.  

Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said “In Alabama, Hyundai’s money talks. And on the issue of civil and human rights for the state’s most powerless individuals, Hyundai’s money has been silent. 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.”

To that, Eliseo Medina, international secretary-treasurer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 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.”

Dae Joong Yoon, board member, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) said: 

“Our community is largely an immigrant community and we too have children who are denied admissions to public schools, young people who see their dreams taken away as they are unable to attend college, workers who take a bus for three hours because they are unable to drive to work, and parents who are deported, leaving their children behind.  HB56 is hurting immigrant families and communities of color and it must be repealed.”

(Yoon’s full statement is available here).

Watch as Wade Henderson addresses the crowd from Hyundai headquarters here: 

Following is more video from Eliseo Medina: 

While at the meeting, the leaders distributed an open letter to Hyundai’s shareholdersm, which in part read: 

Hyundai’s decision to take no position on this law, which has created chaos for 
workers and the communities of color surrounding your Alabama facility, is indeed 
a decision to support this discriminatory law’s continued implementation.  This 
position is unacceptable and threatens your consumers, particularly Latinos, the 
fastest growing group of auto buyers in the U.S

Hyundai’s decision to take no position on this law, which has created chaos for workers and the communities of color surrounding your Alabama facility, is indeed a decision to support this discriminatory law’s continued implementation. This position is unacceptable and threatens your consumers, particularly Latinos, the fastest growing group of auto buyers in the U.S

The delegation also received a statement of support from Korean labor unions:

We are here today to stand in solidarity with this delegation and call on Hyundai Motor to heed the wishes of the American people that Alabama, a state where Hyundai Motor produces its cars, be free of racism.  

This trip is the first of a series of shareholder meetings that the advocates plan on joining. Daimler AG and Honda, which also make cars in Alabama, are holding their shareholder meetings in April and June.

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