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Monday, December 17, 2012 - 12:13pm

State Must Release Kia Hiring Records

A judge has ruled that four applicants for jobs at Kia Motors’ West Point plant are entitled to have records about how the state of Georgia helped the company hire workers at the facility. The former autoworkers say lawmakers conspired with Kia to avoid hiring anyone with a union background.

The state helped Kia hire workers through a technical college system program called QuickStart.

The lawsuit says that 150 former union autoworkers applied but Kia hired only one person with a union background.

The judge also ruled a clause in an open records law unconstitutional because it retroactively blocks the release of information about training programs connected with pending litigation.That clause was added at the last minute when the lawmakers were debating it.

Gerry Weber represents the autoworkers. He says the case will go on but says the judge has already settled two key points.

“We will definitely get the records we requested because this ruling assures our right to those records," he said. "But we also have a right to compensation for our clients who essentially had the Georgia General Assembly take away their lawsuit.”

State attorney general Sam Olens was involved in overhauling the open records law. Through a spokeswoman he said earlier this year that the public and the press had the opportunity to review changes to the bill at every stage.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for Olens referred calls to the technical college system. Mike Light with the technical college system said he can't comment on pending litigation.

Georgia went to great lengths to convince Kia Motors to build a plant here, including agreeing to oversee the recruitment and training of workers for the West Point facility. State technical college officials held 10,000 Kia job interviews to help staff the plant, according to court documents.

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