A Mississippi radio station has reportedly warned Nissan workers they will have to go back to “picking cotton and digging ditches” if they unionise.
Workers at the Canton plant voted nearly two to one against union representation on Friday after a bitter and long-running campaign over workers’ rights in the US south.
Pro-union workers had accused the Nissan plant – which builds Nissan Murano sport utility vehicles, commercial vans, and Titan and Frontier pickup trucks – of having a poor safety record and were unsatisfied after the car maker moved them to a 401(k) defined retirement plan from a traditional pension fund.
But community opposition reached fever pitch in the months leading up to the vote, amid claims some of the anti-union sentiment was being fuelled by an underlying white supremacy sentiment.
“If they get up there at Nissan they will force Nissan out of Mississippi, and you at Nissan better listen because you were out there hauling corn and picking cotton and ploughing fields or digging ditches and you are going to go right back to it because the Union is not going to take care of you,” a man who has not been identified was heard saying on a local radio station.
United Automobile Workers (UAW) had put 10 years of groundwork into the vote Canton plant facility, after two unsuccessful attempts at a Nissan plant in Tennessee.
But the plans fell short in a bitterly contested campaign that the union maintained was a continuation of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
Nissan said the tally of votes, which was overseen by the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), was 2,244 votes against unionisation to 1,307 in favour.
“With this vote, the voice of Nissan employees has been heard,” Nissan said in a statement.
“They have rejected the UAW and chosen to self-represent, continuing the direct relationship they enjoy with the company.”
The UAW has maintained that Nissan has illegally threatened workers with the closure of their plant or the loss of their jobs if they voted in favor of unionisation, a…