United Auto Workers official condemns company’s efforts to prevent employees from organizing as potentially historic vote approaches in Mississippi
Days before a potentially historic union vote at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, the car company has been accused of running one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement”.
The vote, a fiercely contested effort by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to represent a foreign automaker’s US plant, is planned for Thursday and Friday this week. It comes as US unions are hopeful they can overturn a series of defeats as they seek to build membership in southern states, where manufacturers have moved to take advantage of lower wages and non-union workforces.
In the closing days of the campaign, which has attracted support from the former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, UAW officials and their allies have become increasingly confident of victory even as managers have pressured workers to vote no. “People are rallying,” says Frank Figgers, co-chair of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan.
The UAW is undertaking an extensive door-to-door campaign to visit workers in their homes to discuss the union. The UAW has shipped in staff from all over the country to help in the effort.
Other unions from around the south have shipped in organizers from across the country to assist in the outreach to the plant’s nearly 4,000 workers.
Nissan has responded with fierce opposition. The company has blitzed local TV with anti-union ads and stands accused of both threatening and bribing workers to vote no. It requires workers to regularly attend anti-union roundtable group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with their direct supervisors, some of whom have worn “vote no” T-shirts to work.
The Republican governor, Phil Bryant, has also come out hard for Nissan. “If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions,” Bryant said last week.
Washad Catchings, a Nissan worker, said: “There is no atmosphere of free choice in the Canton plant, just fear, which is what Nissan intends.”
Late Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the independent US government agency responsible for enforcing US labor law, filed the latest in a…