Nissan again the focus of protests by union organizers

Chip Wells, a Nissan worker in Canton, Miss., says the UAW would give employees a much-needed voice in the plant's operations and working conditions.
Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.

A group of workers and union activists trying to organize Nissan North America's plant in Mississippi returned to the auto show for a second year, but without making much of a public spectacle.

At a press conference across the street from the show, members of the group, known as the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan, went through a list of grievances against the automaker, including intimidating workers who support unionization and hiring many workers on a temporary basis, which means low wages and no job security.

On a flyer it passed out, the group, which is composed of many local religious leaders, urged Nissan to "lead us not into temp-nation."

"Temp work can't buy a house, temp work can't buy a car, temp work doesn't make for stable communities," said Horace McMillon, pastor of the Open Door Mennonite Church in Jackson, Miss.

Nissan has repeatedly denied that it intimidates or mistreats its workers.

The group is working with the UAW, which has been seeking to organize foreign-owned auto plants across the southern United States.

The UAW has said it has the support of a majority of workers at Volkswagen Group of America's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., but less progress has been outwardly visible in the effort at Nissan since a year ago, when actor and activist Danny Glover led protests outside the auto show.

Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippii State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said more Nissan workers have joined the cause in the past year.

However, he did not indicate any movement on the part of Nissan.

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