UAW trying for win in South at MS plant

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Canton Nissan workerA union vote is planned this week at a Nissan plant in Mississippi, the latest attempt by the United Auto Workers to gain a foothold in the Deep South.

The 6,400-employee automotive plant is set to vote Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 whether to unionize, a move that Nissan's corporate leaders obviously oppose.

Nissan built the enormous plant in 2003, the first automotive plant to open in Mississippi, and UAW has been attempting to organize since 2012.

A union vote in 2014, at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, failed 712-626.

Mississippi is famously among the poorest states in the Union, yet a New York Times story about Nissan and the UAW fight quoted an employee who said her starting salary began at $26 per hour.

The story also reported employees claim the plant is stingy with benefits and ignores safety concerns but also acknowledged that Nissan pays annual bonuses averaging $4,000.

There is also the issue of race and claims of racism by black employees, the story also reported. About 80 percent of the Canton workforce is black.

A spokeswoman for Nissan North America told OneNewsNow that Canton employees are a "key part" of the Nissan corporation and Nissan values its workforce and the Canton community.

The spokeswoman, Parul Bajaj, also claimed the Nissan jobs at the Canton plant are stable and safe, and have some of the best wages and benefits in Mississippi.

"We don't believe that UAW representation are in the best of our plant or its employees," she said, "but ultimately we do respect our employees right to decide and we're encouraging them to vote."

As the union vote looms, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleged this week that Nissan violated workers' rights at the Canton plant, when a supervisor allegedly warned employees of lost wages and benefits if the plant unionizes.

Bajaj told the AP that Nissan denies the allegations and the plant's human resources director told the AP the plant is staying within the law.

"This is not uncommon for the UAW to launch a continuation of baseless attacks against the company," Bajaj told OneNewsNow. "It's just something that they've been doing for years now in an attempt to give us a bad reputation and bring bad press to the company."

A UAW spokesman claimed that "threats and intimidation" have recently escalated at the plant and it's apparent that employees won't be allowed to vote in a "free and fair" election.

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