The arrival of the Hyundai plant to Montgomery County has been celebrated as good news by many, but on Monday the plant was hit with an angry protest. About 150 local pipe fitters, electricians and sheet metal workers say they are upset over the fact they are not getting a piece of the pie in the plant construction. They say they are not upset with Hyundai, just one of the construction firms.
Local pipe fitter, Ronald Parker, says he's lost 60,000 dollars so far because an outsider is doing his job. Parker says, "I'm not blaming the folks from out of town, but we should be hired first." The protesters are upset because they say a large portion of people doing work for Rust Construction are from out of town. 40% to be exact. With Alabama giving up nearly 300 million dollars in tax incentives to lure Hyundai here, some find this latest bit of news a slap in the face. Tim Cooper of the Plumbers-Steamfitters Union says, "To use state tax dollars and not hire mostly Alabama workers is wrong."
Rust Construction tells WSFA 12 News the protestors have their facts wrong. The company itself is not actually building the plant, but instead managing 49 contractors for Hyundai who are doing the work. Rust says 72 percent of the 49 contractors are Alabama contractors. Still Alabama's Commissioner of Agriculture, Ron Sparks, is calling for an investigation.
There is no contract that specifically says those 49 contractors must hire mostly Alabama construction workers. That is a fact Representative John Knight confirms, but he says the point is common sense when it comes to keeping dollars and cents in Alabama.