How the UAW Lost at Nissan
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/09/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21630
In early August, the UAW's union recognition campaign at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi ended in a disastrous 63% "no" vote - 10% greater than the loss at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee three and a half years earlier.
Of the 6400 workers at the plant, only 3500-3800 were eligible to vote. The rest were temporary workers. In fact 2500 are employed by Kelly Services, not Nissan.
At Nissan there are three separate tiers. There are "legacy" workers who were hired in when Nissan began. Second are "pathway" workers who started as temporaries and gained full-time employment - but whose benefits will never equal the highest tier. There are approximately 1500 of these second-tier workers. Third are the "temporary" workers employed by Kelly Services.
As a retired autoworker, I see two huge organizing issues: 1) the pro-union workers didn't come together and begin to act like a union but merely talked about why there should be one. 2) The UAW didn't reach out to the temporary workers and draw them into the campaign.
Most autoworkers see how temporary workers are superexploited. They work as hard, or harder, than "legacy" workers but are paid significantly less, with no job security and zero benefits.