U.S. Manufacturing Workers Calling On Nissan To Allow Them To Unionize

Tue, Jan 31, 2017 1,455

Although protests at airports across the country have been gaining a lot of attention over the weekend, recently there was another, lesser-known demonstration that had nothing to do with executive orders.

Approximately 70 manufacturing workers last week gathered at Coleman Park in Nashville across from Action Nissan, which is roughly 15 miles from Nissan’s North American headquarters, according to the Nashville Tennessean, via USA TODAY. The protesters are urging Nissan to allow its workers to unionize.

“Workers are mistreated inside the (Canton, Miss.) plant. We’re spoken to disrespectfully by management,” Ernest Whitfield, a press operator for 13 years at Nissan’s Canton, Miss., plant, told the Tennessean.” As far as the safety conditions, they aren’t up to par. … It’s just a lack of dignity we’re having to deal with, and we’re told we’re ungrateful when we say we want to unionize.”

Nissan reportedly released a statement in response to the protests, calling the workers’ claims “unfounded.”

“Nissan’s history reflects that we truly value our employees and respect their right to decide who should represent them,” the company said. “Nissan Canton and Smyrna employees enjoy good, stable, safe jobs with some of the highest wages and strongest benefits in Mississippi and Tennessee. The allegations being made by the union against Nissan are completely unfounded.”

However, there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest demonstrator’s complaints have some merit.

The United Automobile Workers has been outspoken in its criticism of the Canton plant for hiring temporary rather than full-time workers and threatening workers to prevent them from unionizing. In addition, the UAW has fought for several years to unionize Canton employees, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the facility for two violations in 2016, via USA TODAY.

Whitfield said Nissan pays Canton workers between $12 and $26 per hour, based on a tiered system.

Thumbnail photo via Nissan