Nissan executives support union vote

July 19, 2017 in News

By Othor Cain

EditorScreen Shot 2017-07-19 at 10.11.43 PM

Workers at Nissan Motor Company’s Canton plant will decide Aug 3 and 4 whether the United Auto Workers (UAW) will represent them. The company and the UAW said Monday that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had set the election date.

In a press release shared with media outlets, UAW shared: In an election petition filed with the NLRB, Nissan employees originally sought to schedule the election earlier that same week but instead agreed to the Aug. 3-4 dates offered by the company.

In announcing the election dates, the UAW criticized Nissan for stepping up efforts to intimidate employees following the July 11 announcement that an election petition had been filed. In the days following the petition, Nissan employees have reported widespread pressure by company supervisors in one-on-one meetings and in videos broadcast inside the Canton plant.

The Mississippi Link was given access to the video that was produced and shown after the press conference, which was held last week at the UAW office located near the plant in Canton. “We have absolutely nothing to hide and we believe very strongly in communicating with our employees and we do that on a regularly bases, in fact, everyday said Jeffrey Webster, director of Diversity and Inclusion for Nissan North America. “We didn’t just start showing videos, we find that this is one of the most effective ways to get it done with a limited amount of time.”

Based on our viewing of the video, The Mississippi Link found it not to contain any language, actions or messaging of intimidation. Officials with Nissan said it’s an opportunity to tell the company’s side of the story. “We respect and appreciate all of our employees and we believe in and support their right to vote, but we also think it is only fair why we believe that UAW isn’t the best representative for them,” said Parul Bajaj, manager of Corporate Communications for Nissan. “It is always a good opportunity for everyone to hear both sides of the situation.”

Some workers at the plant in Canton have accused Nissan of turning up the heat and the UAW highlighted that in its release Monday.

Because of Nissan’s actions, which are inconsistent with the company’s stated principles of neutrality, the UAW said it will prepare a new round of unfair labor practice charges to submit to the NLRB.

Nissan’s treatment of workers in Mississippi is contrary to statements made last year by Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In a February 2016 hearing before the French National Assembly, Ghosn denied allegations that Nissan opposes employee representation in Mississippi, claiming the company “has no tradition of not cooperating with unions.”

Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of the international union’s transnational department, noted the disconnect between Ghosn’s political statements and Nissan’s actual behavior in Canton.

“Over the past six days, Nissan has made it abundantly clear that it does not respect its Mississippi employees’ rights to vote in a free and fair election,” Casteel said. “In fact, the company is running one of the most aggressive anti-worker campaigns that we’ve seen in modern U.S. history.”

Officials with Nissan maintain that when UAW and some employees say they want Nissan “to get out of the way,” they are essentially saying they don’t want Nissan to have a voice.

“We liken this to a political campaign, voters should be able to hear and have access to information from all sides before casting a vote,” Bajaj said. “We should be able to share our benefits and praise the wonderful work of our employees.”

Nissan released the following statement after learning that a vote for a union would take place.

The secret ballot election date has been set for technicians at the Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, subject to NLRB approval. During the election, which will take place on August 3 and 4, 2017, Nissan Canton technicians will decide whether or not to have the UAW become their exclusive representative for purposes of collective bargaining. Nissan does not believe that UAW representation is in the best interest of Nissan Canton and its workers. However, it is ultimately up to the employees to decide.

“In Canton, Nissan technicians enjoy pay and benefits that are among the best in Mississippi, a safe work environment, and a history of job security that exceeds UAW-organized plants,” said Rodney Francis, HR director at Nissan Canton. “Our success has been built upon the direct relationship we have with employees. Given the UAW’s history of strikes, layoffs and plant closures, it is clear that their presence could be harmful.”

Nissan will post election voting times and locations to ensure every Nissan Canton technician has an opportunity to vote and have his or her voice heard. The company encourages employees to educate themselves on UAW representation in order to make an informed decision.

The Nissan Canton plant opened in 2003 and has created more than 25,000 total jobs statewide and has some of the best paying and most secure manufacturing jobs in the state. Over the last several years, UAW has launched baseless and false claims against the company in an attempt to unionize the workforce.

The Mississippi Link will follow the vote and share the outcome as soon as that information becomes available.