Thursday, August 03, 2017

Fight for the Union

 A bitter, 14-year battle is set to climax on Thursday and Friday when the 3,700 workers vote whether to join the United Auto Workers or not. Aggrieved auto workers are demanding better pay and benefits via unionisation. The UAW has worked for years building support in Canton, Mississipi.
Nissan's use of temporary staff has energised people here. These workers earn less than long time employees and have worse benefits.
"I want to have a voice in the plant", Nissan employee Robert Hathorn told the BBC.
"To me it's not fair", said Nissan worker Eric Hearn. "What we're doing is looking for fairness," he added.
Facing a political climate hostile to organised labour, supporters in Mississippi have linked unionisation to civil rights among the plant's majority African-American workforce. "It's about inequality which is about civil rights," according to Mississippi minister Dr Isiac Jackson Jr, chair of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan. "When blacks would go to register to vote, somebody might come by their house burning a cross or wearing a hood," he said "Now they don't wear the hood or burn the cross but they come by saying we're going to close the union, we're going to close the plant."
Workers say Nissan has fought them every step of the way, threatening them with loss of wages and plant closures. To get its message across, Nissan has posted anti-union messages inside the factory.
"You know they're pulling workers in one-on-one conversations", said Travis Parks, a Nissan employee and union supporter. He said he was told: "You might lose benefits if you form a union. You might lose this. You might lose that."
When Nissan opened the plant in 2003, the Mississippi state government gave the company $1.3bn in tax breaks. Past efforts to organise at Nissan, Volkswagen and Mercedes, to name a few, have been pushed back. In part because the message the South sent to foreign manufacturers was: "Come here, and we'll keep unions out."
The UAW has never won a union vote at any of the South's foreign-owned car assembly plants. In Canton a victory could provide a model for organising across the rest of the South.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

A sad result

2,244 votes against unionisation to 1,307 in favour.