Nissan workers reject union again

SMYRNA, Tenn., Oct. 3 — Workers at Nissan Motor Co.’s U.S. car and truck plant have again voted against UAW representation by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

The tally –3,103 against the union and 1,486 for—was virtually the same margin of rejection the UAW received in its last organizing election at Nissan in 1989.

Announcing the final vote at the Smyrna, Tenn., auto plant, Dan Gaudette, Nissan North America Inc. senior vice president of U.S. manufacturing, called the vote “a mandate” for the union to leave the plant alone.

“The vast majority of our employees have made it clear that they have no interest in being represented by the UAW,” Gaudette said. “We hope now that the UAW will respect their wishes.”

Gaudette’s remarks were buffeted by nearly 100 Nissan workers cheering and whistling in celebration of the vote. Many were wearing caps and red T-shirts reading “Vote No,” and “One Team.”

Speaking to a more sedate group at a small recruiting office near the plant, Bob King, the UAW’s vice president for national organizing, said the union might return to Nissan in as little as six months.

“It’s clearly a setback,” King admitted. “We’ve just lost round two. But there will be a round three and a round four.”

Nissan is one of six automakers operating nonunion auto plants in the United States. The others are Toyota Motor Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG, BMW AG, Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc. and Honda Motor Co. King said the union is still undecided on whether to turn a newly opened recruitment office at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, car plant into a full-fledged campaign.

The union surprised Nissan in August by simultaneously announcing an organizing campaign and petitioning for a fast election. Prior to the 1989 election, the union had spent 12 full months unsuccessfully campaigning for Nissan’s workers.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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