Workers at Hyundai Motor Co.'s factory in Montgomery, Ala., will be paid a lower wage than comparable workers at other non-Big 3 automakers in the region.
The move is necessary, said Byung Mo Ahn, executive vice president for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC, because the Korean automaker needs to preserve the price position of its vehicles.
But the strategy could leave Hyundai vulnerable to an organizing effort by the UAW.
"We are still trying to improve our brand image so that we can charge more on MSRP to consumers," Ahn said when asked about Hyundai's Alabama wage plans at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference on May 6 in Birmingham, Ala. "But we are not Mercedes. We are not BMW. We are not Toyota, Honda, Nissan. So I think in the beginning, our team members will expect something lower than that. But it's competitive."
A company spokesman later clarified that the wage structure will be competitive with other automakers when it is completed.