UAW em­broiled in a fight

Anti-union cam­paign from Nis­san Mo­tor Com­pany

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

The United Auto Work­ers faces a strong anti-union cam­paign from Nis­san Mo­tor Co. as it tries to gain a foothold in the union-averse South by or­ga­niz­ing work­ers at the Ja­panese au­tomaker’s Mis­sis­sippi plant.

As many as 4,000 work­ers will vote Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 at the ve­hi­cle as­sem­bly plant in Canton, just north of Jack­son. The union prom­ises it would help ne­go­ti­ate bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, ben­e­fits and wages at the plant. How­ever, man­agers warn that the UAW will ul­ti­mately hurt both the com­pany and the work­ers.

Union sup­port­ers tried to pres­sure Nis­san for years into stay­ing neu­tral, or at least ton­ing down its anti-union stance. But man­agers, while say­ing work­ers get to de­cide, are push­ing against the UAW. The com­pany is broad­cast­ing anti-union videos in­side the plant, and the UAW says su­per­vi­sors are pulling work­ers into pri­vate meet­ings to gauge UAW sup­port and per­suade work­ers against union­iz­ing.

The UAW has tried to bol­ster sup­port among the ma­jor­i­tyAfrican Amer­i­can work­force by link­ing union sup­port to civil rights, but even union sup­port­ers ad­mit man­age­ment’s mes­sage is caus­ing some pro-UAW work­ers to wa­ver.

“Peo­ple who were for the union are now un­de­cided,” said Shanta But­ler, a union sup­porter.

The stakes are high. The UAW has never or­ga­nized an en­tire for­eign-owned auto plant in the South, al­though it did win an elec­tion among main­te­nance tech­ni­cians at a Volk­swa­gen AG plant in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee. For­eign au­tomak­ers came South in part to avoid unions, and most ben­e­fit from lower labour costs.

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