Nissan workers reject United Auto Workers in Mississippi

CANTON, Miss. (AP) — Workers at a Nissan assembly plant in Mississippi have voted against forming a union, adding to decades of futility by United Auto Workers organizers at foreign-owned auto plants in the American South.

Representatives of Nissan Motor Co. and the UAW said late Friday voters at the plant cast ballots against the UAW. Nissan spokeswoman Parul Baraj said the final total was 2,244 to 1,307 against the union.

“They have rejected the UAW and chosen to self-represent, continuing the direct relationship they enjoy with the company,” Bajaj said in a statement “Our expectation is that the UAW will respect and abide by their decision and cease their efforts to divide our Nissan family.”

The UAW has never fully organized an international automaker in the traditionally anti-union South, although it did persuade some maintenance workers to join at a Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee. The UAW’s lack of influence among southern auto workers has reduced its bargaining power when Detroit automakers lose market share and close plants. After pouring resources into the organizing drive at Nissan, this loss could leave UAW leaders with tough decisions.

“The result of the election was a setback for these workers, the UAW and working Americans everywhere, but in no way should it be considered a defeat,” UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement.

The union filed seven new charges with the National Labor Relations Board just before polls closed Friday alleging that Nissan had broken federal labor laws during the campaign. If the labor board rules in favor of the charges, the board could order a fresh election. Among the claims: Nissan provided a faulty contact list to the union, it caused a contract worker to be filed because of his union support, and a manager told workers July 28 that they would lose benefits it they voted for a union.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel had telegraphed the move Monday, when he alleged illegal activity by the company and said that if the union lost, it would be a “direct result of the unlawful behavior.”

Nissan spokeswoman Parul Bajaj said the company lived up to its obligations in providing the list. She generally denied the other charges.

“The UAW is again launching baseless and unsubstantiated allegations against Nissan Canton in a desperate, last-minute attempt to undermine the integrity of the secret ballot voting process,” Bajaj said in a statement.

The labor board has already issued a complaint against Nissan…

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