(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden encouraged Hyundai Motor Co. to partner with unionized US workers following a meeting with the company’s chief executive.
“Hyundai and any company investing in the United States would benefit greatly from entering into partnerships with some of the most highly skilled, dedicated and engaged workers in the world,” Biden said in a joint appearance with Hyundai’s Executive Chairman Euisun Chung. “And that is American union members.”
Hyundai announced Friday it’s investing $5.5 billion to build an EV assembly and battery plant near Savannah, Georgia.
But Georgia is a right-to-work state, meaning workers may not be required to join a union as a condition of their employment. Just 4.8% of Georgia’s workforce were members of unions in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Biden, who has vowed to be the most pro-union president in US history, also heralded the benefit of union jobs in the EV industry during a tour Friday of a Samsung facility outside Seoul.
“Every joint venture that manufactures electric vehicle batteries would be made stronger by collective bargaining relationships with America unions,” Biden said.
Biden has set a goal of electrifying half of US cars by 2030, and administration officials said earlier this month that the federal government will spend more than $3 billion to support domestic manufacturing of advanced batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage.
“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 through 2025 to collaborate “with American enterprises in diverse technologies, such as robotics, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and AI.”
Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp -- who faces former Senator David Perdue in Tuesday’s GOP primary -- has backed hefty incentives to lure automotive companies. Perdue is backed by former President Donald Trump.
Hyundai Investing $5.5 Billion in Georgia EV, Battery Plants
Hyundai’s sales in the US have increased since the company transformed its fleet to meet Americans’ demand for SUVs. It set a US retail sales record in the first quarter after increasing deliveries nearly 20% in 2021.
The company said in April it will spend $300 million to expand its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, to make a hybrid version of the Santa Fe crossover and an EV for its luxury Genesis brand, the GV70, this fall.
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