Hyundai’s Child Labor Shame

A letter from several members of Congress to the Labor Department says they believe some of Hyundai’s suppliers use child labor. If so, it is a black mark on the company’s reputation and will undermine its brand for years. American consumers should boycott Hyundai and refuse to buy its vehicles.

The letter states, “According to reports, children are actively recruited from Central America and employed through third-party staffing agencies in an attempt to cover up these disturbing activities.” Most of this activity takes place in Alabama. The accusations also point out that other workers tried to bring the matter to the employers’ attention and were ignored.

Earlier in the year, Hyundai said it would cut its relationship with these suppliers. The letter says this did not happen. Hyundai will likely say it did not know about this activity. However, that begs the question of why it still has a relationship with the suppliers and why it did not continue to monitor the situation.

Hyundai is one of two highly successful car companies in the US. The other is Kia. Ten years ago, these companies held a tiny part of the American car market. They are significant competitors with German, Japanese, and domestic companies today. Kia has not been involved in the child labor problem, so consumers should leave it alone.

Hyundai holds over 5% of the American market. It has a full line of cars, SUVs, and EVs. Its quality levels have pushed it to the top of many car quality surveys. Its recently reported actions undermine that.

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A boycott of Hyundai could reverse several years of hard work to break the US market. This effort must have cost its parent companies hundreds of millions of dollars. The child abuse scandal should turn that investment into a waste. (These were the biggest scandals of 2022.)

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