Sunday, March 16, 2014

WSJ: UAW vote at Nissan (Canton) in doubt.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday the UAW is having a tough time organizing at the Nissan plant in Canton:

The United Auto Workers union headquarters here—tucked beside a cow pasture down the road from a sprawling Nissan Motor Co. 7201.TO -1.84% plant—was supposed to be a springboard for a new wave of labor activism across the South.

It has become instead a center of discouragement and uncertainty in a state where many want the union to pack up and leave.

Union foes "are winning," said Isiac Jackson, a Baptist pastor who heads the Mississippi Alliance For Fairness at Nissan, a group trying to rally UAW support. But, he added, "they haven't won the war."

UAW officials and pro-union workers say they won't hold a vote on whether to unionize at the Nissan plant until the company agrees to let union supporters make their pitch to workers inside the facility. Nissan officials say they won't let that happen.

The union faces other obstacles.

Drawn by the high wages, workers streamed in from across the state when Nissan set up shop nearly 11 years ago. Production workers at the plant now make an average of about $25 an hour in a state with the second-lowest average hourly wages in the country, at $18.83 in 2012. (KF note: average starting salary now at the Big 3 is $15 an hour under the new contracts*.)

Some workers oppose the union drive on the grounds that positions at Nissan represent dream jobs in a state where more than 20% of residents receive food stamps. Others point to how burdensome UAW contracts helped drive General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy in 2009.

When some pro-union workers recently began wearing UAW shirts and buttons, others countered with shirts that said "If you want a union" on the front and "Move to Detroit" on the back.

"I really think they don't appreciate what they have and where they came from," said Tanesha Moody, a 36-year-old production instructor at the plant, speaking of the pro-union advocates.

Those pushing for a UAW takeover say Nissan had refused to increase hourly pay for five years before granting a slight raise last year, and also complain the company has relied increasingly on lower-paid contract help. (KF note: Nissan lost money in 2009 and cut 20,000 jobs, 9% of its workforce. It earned nearly $3 billion in income for each of the last three years.).

"All the UAW is going to do is make sure the employers are going to treat their employees right,' said Rosalind Essex, 45, who lives in Terry, Miss. and has worked at the plant for 10 years.

A Nissan spokesman said the company offers competitive wages, makes numerous contributions to local schools and other groups, and offers other perks, such as tuition reimbursement.

"Despite the UAW's best efforts to suggest they can add value, our co-workers have not been convinced," said Nissan spokesman Travis Parman, noting that workers have tried and failed twice to unionize Nissan's Tennessee plant.....

Union organizers, however, have no such advantage at Nissan's futuristic facility in Mississippi, which churned out about 300,000 cars, trucks and vans last year on the grounds of a former cotton plantation. Indeed, they say the company has directed many workers to watch anti-union video—and some proponents fear their multiyear effort to organize a union is in jeopardy if they don't act soon.

Since the Tennessee vote, pro-union workers say there has been a surge in the number of workers who have signed on to the union drive, but they won't give precise numbers. The company is also keeping secret how many of its roughly 5,000 Mississippi workers are contract—or temp—labor, and thus not eligible for union membership. The UAW thinks there are about 1,000 temp workers, but says it doesn't know for sure.

Employees who support creating a union are reluctant to disclose the raw number of votes they think they need to win. To trigger a vote, they first need to gather signatures from 30% of full-time union-eligible workers..... Article

*2011 Bloomberg story: "Starting pay will increase to about $16 an hour from $14 and rise to about $19 an hour from a previous maximum of $16, said the people who asked not to be identified disclosing details before they have been presented to union members for ratification." Article


Anonymous said...

Most Nissan workers are sharp enough to know that UAW only wants them as leverage for a larger war.

It would be different if the UAW circa 1970 came in and could credibly say, "Hey, we've got these car companies in our back pocket. Come join us on the gravy train." But today, it's more like, "We have zero leverage, but we'd like to use the threat of shutting down your plant and eliminating your job to get some."

Anonymous said...

Once again, only the "uninformed" workers who believe everything they are told from the UAW are the ones who are for this. If they would only stop and think - they never had it so good!!!

Anonymous said...

In the 80's in Bowling Green, Ky a tire plant had a union and it went on strike. The company told the strikers that if they didn't return to work they would shut the plant down and move. Needless to say the plant is no longer there.

Free Da Plant said...

How damned stupid would a group of union reps be to think they can strong-arm an employer into letting them come on site to make a pitch to employees?

Well, about as stupid as a huckster-black-preacher who has no understanding of labor law, benefits, wage stucture in the community or employer rights.

Anonymous said...

And the average American's wages are below what
they were in 1972, adjusted for inflation. Weak unions
and Free Trade aren't great for worker incomes.

Anonymous said...

remember the hostess plant that was union wanted to strike.. they closed. down and 18000 workers were out of a job.. so unions didn't help. belonged to a union for 27 years every time we got a raise union dues went up insurance went up co pays went you people should be very happy without a union

Anonymous said...

40 hour work week, thank the Unions. Vacation time, thank the Unions
Child labor laws, thank the Unions.
Overtime pay, thank the Unions.
When the Unions are gone do you think corporations will look after their workers, think again.

Anonymous said...

Back at 'cha, Bennie!

Anonymous said...

Shit made in Mexico. Thank the unions.
Shit made in China. Thank the unions.
Cities without factories. Thank the unions.
No middle class. Thank the unions.

Anonymous said...

One of the best jobs available in Mississippi is the Nissan plant. These self serving assholes want to screw that up.

Anonymous said...

any news on the vote? powah twos da peeples

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