Union asks South Korea to address Kumho Tire’s employee relations in USA

Leo W. Gerard, president of US-based trade union the United Steelworkers (USW), has sent a letter to South Korea’s President in which he raises concerns about Kumho Tire’s dealings with its workforce in the United States. The USW comments that this correspondence with Moon Jae-in addresses Kumho’s “union-busting actions towards its workers” and asks the South Korean government to intervene and “ensure that the workers are free to exercise their democratic rights.”

The letter follows up a petition that the USW filed last month with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency in the US that protects the rights of private sector employees to engage in collective bargaining, to conduct a union election for more than 300 workers at Kumho’s plant in Macon, Georgia. The election is scheduled to take place on October 12 and 13.

“Kumho Tire responded to the unionisation effort in Macon by requiring workers to attend meetings in which managers have attempted to dissuade workers from joining the union,” shares the USW in a statement. “The company also has spent tens of thousands of dollars on union-busting consultants who have shared misleading and inaccurate information on an anti-union website.”

“As we understand that Kumho Tire is currently under effective control of a creditors’ committee headed by the Korean Development Bank, it appears that the Government of the Republic of Korea may bear direct responsibility for the behaviour of the company’s management,” Gerard wrote. “Our union is also concerned about the potential impact the actions of Kumho Tire management in the US may have on the relationship between our countries in the context of current discussions over the possible renegotiation of the KORUS free trade agreement.

“We request that you communicate with Kumho Tire as soon as possible to request that their management at the Macon, Georgia plant immediately desist from all anti-union activities.”

Gerard’s letter to Moon Jae-in can be read here.

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