Nissan, UAW agree on union vote at southern US auto plant

Posted on July 21, 2017

THE UNITED Auto Workers and Nissan said Monday that they reached an agreement to let workers at a Nissan plant in the southern state of Mississippi to vote on whether to unionize.

Nissan Motor showroom in Tokyo -- AFP
Controversy over unionization at the largely African-American plant in the town of Canton, which opened in 2003 and employs 6,400 people, has raged for years.

In May, the UAW labor union filed a complaint with the federal National Labor Relations Board claiming that Nissan was using deterrence tactics against workers who showed signs of unionizing.

“We do not believe that UAW representation is in the best interest of Nissan Canton and the people who work here,” Nissan said in a statement.

“However, it is ultimately up to the employees to decide.”

The NLRB will supervise the Aug. 3-4 vote, the UAW said.

“Over the past six days, Nissan has made it abundantly clear that it does not respect its Mississippi employees’ rights to vote in a free and fair election,” UAW official Gary Casteel said in a statement.

Nissan “is running one of the most aggressive anti-worker campaigns that we’ve seen in modern US history,” Casteel claimed.

Many manufacturers, particularly automakers, have set up plants in the US south where unions are not as ingrained in the social fabric.

In March, one-time US presidential contender Bernie Sanders spoke in favor of unionization in Canton in an appearance that doubled as Democratic Party outreach.

Sanders was accompanied by actor Danny Glover and officials from the NAACP, the largest African-American advocacy group in the United States.

Organizers demanded that the company halt what they said was “ongoing harassment of African-American workers who are organizing to form a union.”

They allege that Nissan threatened to illegally shut down the facility and terminate employment if workers unionized, and unlawfully interrogated workers. -- AFP