Unionization and Workers' Demands
By Mike Elk Following an ugly campaign, Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi, lost a historic union election by a margin of 2,244 to 1,307 last week. Workers say that they aren’t giving up in their attempts to organize. The union immediately pledged to challenge the results at the National Labor Relations Board. Late last month, the NLRB charged Nissan with illegally threatening workers and bribing workers to vote against the union. On the day of the election, the UAW filed seven more unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB. If the federal body decides that Nissan broke the law, it could order another election within six months. Workers say that during the next 6 months the union will have to prove the promises made by the company to stop the union drive were empty. “[Nissan] is going to play this nice guy role for about 3-6 months…then everything will go back to normal,” says Nissan worker Robert Hathorn. “Then, the same people who voted against us are gonna be the same ones leading the campaign more than we are.” They say that despite not having a union, workers will have to continue to advocate for small everyday changes. Doing so they say will prove necessary to showing that the union, not Nissan, truly has workers’ interests at heart. “They don’t understand that they are the union,” said worker Michael Carter. “There is not a third party coming in there, the union is already in there, and that’s what we gotta make them understand, that they…
CANTON, Miss. – Nearly every business around the Nissan plant displays a sign that reads, “Our Team, Our Future, Vote No August 3-4.” The message at and around the Nissan plant is clear: A vote for a union hurts the economic future of Canton. As the more than 3,500 employees vote today and tomorrow on whether or not to join the UAW, Nissan’s campaign against unionization continues. The automobile manufacturer has touted business and civic leaders who warn workers that although they think a union will help them, in reality, it will hurt everyone in their community and even the entire state. “If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant warned last week. That message is being reinforced on airways, in signs, and in awkward mandatory meetings where supervisors tell employees that a union would eliminate Nissan’s sense of teamwork, which they claim makes the company more innovative than American-based automakers. Such meetings can last as long as an hour. In them, workers are routinely reminded of times when management looked away at minor infractions by employees, such as being late to work or getting extra sick time. Other workers currently employed as temporary workers by Kelly Services, are now being offered “pathways” to permanent employment as Nissan begs for workers to get them a “second chance,” Late last week, the NLRB filed a complaint against Nissan charging that the company has broken the law…
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Elaine Bernard Pt5: To build a movement, unions need to organize unemployed workers to demand jobs
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Elaine Bernard Pt.3: The biggest barrier to unionization is the law
Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Trade Union Program at Harvard Law School, explains the various ways that the US legal system inhibits worker organization. Above all, believes Elaine, the Taft-Hartley Act, a post-World War II bill that brought about the ‘right to work’ principle, stands as a continuing systemic challenge for unions.