Since 2012, the UAW has desperately worked to shore up it’s dwindling numbers – as well as gain a semblance of presence in the South – by unionizing the Canton, Mississippi Nissan plant’s over 6,000 workers. Three weeks ago, union activists passed a significant hurdle when the petition to unionize earned the minimum number of signatures to trigger a vote by employees.
The UAW’s pitch was as predictable as it was repetitious, casting Nissan corporation and the Canton plant’s management as abusive, dishonest and racist.
“Nissan spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year marketing itself as a socially responsible carmaker, even going so far as to brag about its appeal to African-American car buyers,” Rahmeel Nash, a longtime worker at the plant, said in a UAW statement July 11. “But behind the scenes, the company is violating the labor rights of African-American workers who make those cars.”
For three weeks the UAW accelerated its efforts to convince the Mississippi workers to unionize, often relying on civil-right rhetoric and clergy to make the case for them.
“Some of the issues I gather in the Nissan plant are similar to the issues in Chattanooga and elsewhere,” said Daniel Cornfield, a labor expert at Vanderbilt University told the New York Times. “But in the case of Mississippi, they are being framed in terms of respect and disrespect for workers, and linking that to a civil rights orientation.”
But the result of the two day vote August 3rd and 4th was clear and unambiguous: NO.
More than 62 percent of workers voting in a two-day election at Nissan Motor Co.’s Canton plant voted against the UAW, with 2,244 ballots against the union according to the National Labor Relations Board. Voting for union representation were 1,307 workers, or 38 percent.
Kim Barber, a Nissan worker who vehemently opposed the UAW’s proposal celebrated the outcome, telling the AP, “They know we didn’t need it. We didn’t need outside interference coming into our plant.”
Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers are vowing to ‘fight on,’ as president Dennis Williams posted this bitter statement:
The courageous workers of Nissan, who fought tirelessly for union representation alongside community and civil-rights leaders, should be proud of their efforts to be represented by the UAW. 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.
Perhaps recognizing they couldn’t keep their workers from joining our union based on the facts, Nissan and its anti-worker allies ran a vicious campaign against its own workforce that was comprised of intense scare tactics, misinformation and intimidation.
American workers need champions more than ever. The workers of Nissan deserve to have the job security, safe working conditions and collective bargaining power that come only from belonging to a union. The UAW will continue to be on the frontlines of that fight for all workers.