Automakers have battled hard to keep organized labor from gaining traction in the U.S. South. Mostly, they've won -- as Nissan Motor Co. did when workers at its Mississippi plant voted in August against joining a union. But the Japanese company has been accused of fighting dirty.
It could prove a test case for labor in the age of Donald Trump. Unions have been fighting a rearguard action as automakers shifted production to Southern states, where wages are lower and laws are more management-friendly -- something Trump encouraged, even as his campaign was winning union votes. It's part of a wider squeeze on workers who have seen pay stagnate and protections erode, sparking a backlash in industrial regions that both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tapped into.
In Mississippi, Nissan carried out illegal surveillance of employees for years and used the findings to rate them on a scale of union-friendliness, the UAW said in an amended complaint filed Sept. 19 with the National Labor Relations Board.
The automaker said it abides by all labor laws. The filing is "another attempt by the UAW to ignore the voices of Nissan employees who chose to reject representation by a nearly 2-to-1 margin," spokesman Brian Brockman said in an email. He didn't directly address whether the company had a rating system.