Just because it came up short last week, don’t expect it to be the last attempt by United Auto Workers to organize a plant in the southern U.S.
Citing what it calls “threats” and “intimidation,” the United Auto Workers has filed charges against Nissan after workers in Canton, Mississippi, decided not to organize. Nissan employees voted on Friday to reject the UAW’s effort to unionize the Canton plant by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The NLRB-conducted election tally was 2,244-1,307, opposing the UAW. (See earlier story)
“The courageous workers of Nissan, who fought tirelessly for union representation alongside community and civil-rights leaders, should be proud of their efforts to be represented by the UAW,” says UAW president Dennis Williams in a press release. “The result of the election was a setback for these workers, the UAW and working Americans everywhere, but in no way should it be considered a defeat.”
Williams adds that “Nissan and its anti-worker allies ran a vicious campaign against its own workforce that was comprised of intense scare tactics, misinformation and intimidation.”
But according to Trey Kovacs of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, that wasn’t the reason behind the union loss. Simply put, he says, the Nissan workers in Canton didn’t see a need for a union.
“In an area in Mississippi where good paying jobs are often scarce, the Nissan workers were making, on average, $26 an hour, which is far above the median wage in the area,” he explains. “So it was really a tough sell [for the UAW] to say We’re going to get you better pay and benefits when [those workers] already receive better pay than most other jobs that are in the area.”
As for the lawsuit? “Anyone could have predicted that they [UAW] would have filed these charges,” Kovacs responds.
He adds the union has spent a lot of time and resources trying to organize this Nissan plant.
“With such a bad loss at the plant, I think it will discourage them from trying to infiltrate the South because they’ve had so little success and it cost a good amount of money to take on these years-long campaigns to organize these workers,” he continues.
Kovacs suggests some self-analysis might be in order for the union following another overwhelming loss. “They’re going to have to do a cost-benefit analysis and [decide if it’s] really worth spending [their] members’ dues to try to organize these new members in the South,” he states.
Kovacs, however, does express concern that by being granted an election petition, the UAW was given access to the telephone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules of the Nissan employees – “Something it will undoubtedly use to convince Nissan workers to unionize in the future,” he writes. The NRLB, he adds, has similar concerns, admitting the information could be used to “harass, coerce, or rob employees.”
This was the third time UAW has tried to organize an auto plant in the Southeastern United States.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.