UAW President Bob King and Mississippi Nissan worker Morris Mock speaking about Nissan's alleged labour rights violations before a crowd of 1.3 million at Brazil's May Day event, the largest in the world. (Photo courtesy of the UAW)
Something missing at Nissan USA
The President of the USA’s giant United Auto Workers, Bob King, was in London recently to meet with Unite’s National Automotive Committee. He spoke about how the UAW, along with the global union federation IndustriALL, has asked the US State Department for help over a claim that Nissan in Canton, Mississippi is violating the rights of workers to form a union.
The UAW has been trying to organise the Nissan plant which employs 5,600 people on permanent and temporary contracts. King told Unite shop stewards how Nissan in the USA behaved differently towards unions in the UK and Europe, using threats, intimidation and union busting techniques to keep the union out of the Canton plant.
The UAW says Nissan’s continued opposition to union recognition violates guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and it is taking a case under the guidelines in support of its organising drive. The UAW has also requested the US State Department to mediate between the unions and Nissan.
Nissan spokesman Justin Saia uses the standard line that the company “respects the labour laws of every country in which we operate” (which says it all about labour laws in the USA!) and that each employee is able to decide whether or not to join a union.
The UAW move is an attempt to focus global attention on Nissan’s alleged violations of international labour rights. Workers report that Nissan relentlessly promotes an anti-union messages at the factory in Canton. At a recent UAW community organising conference, Canton Nissan worker Dionne Monroe told the story of Canton Nissan worker Chip Wells who faced numerous disciplinary actions from management after he was publicly interviewed about his pro-union views. He was later reinstated by Nissan after union members in Brazil demonstrated about the unfair treatment of Wells. Support for the campaign also came from South African unions last year, as actor and activist Danny Glover recounts.