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Nissan ramps up anti-union push (Read More…)

Workers at 450,000-vehicle Mississippi plant to vote in August
By JEFF AMY The Associated Press – July 22, 2017

CANTON, Miss.—The United Auto Workers faces a strong anti-union campaign from Nissan Motor Co. as it tries to gain a foothold in the union-averse South by organizing workers at the Japanese automaker’s Mississippi plant.

As many as 4,000 workers will vote Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 at the vehicle assembly plant in Canton, just north of Jackson. The union promises it will help negotiate better working conditions, benefits and wages at the plant. However, managers warn that the union will ultimately hurt both the company and the workers.

Union supporters tried to pressure Nissan for years into staying neutral, or at least toning down its anti-union stance. But managers, while saying workers get to decide, are pushing against the United Auto Workers. The company is broadcasting anti-union videos inside the plant, and the union says supervisors are pulling workers into private meetings to gauge union support and persuade workers against unionizing.

The United Auto Workers has tried to bolster support among the majority black workforce by linking union support to civil rights, but even union supporters admit management’s message is causing some pro-union workers to waver.

“People who were for the union are now undecided,” said Shanta Butler, a union supporter.

The stakes are high. The union has never organized an entire foreign-owned auto plant in the South, although it did win an election among maintenance technicians at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Foreign automakers came South in part to avoid unions, and most benefit from lower labor costs.
Workers at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn., rejected the union in 1989 and 2001 votes, but this is the first election in Canton. Though unions have struggled to crack Southern auto plants owned by foreign companies, unions have prevailed nationwide in 65 percent of elections from October through June, National Labor Relations Board figures show.

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