Foreign owned automotive plants are not known for being easy to unionize and the Nissan plant in Mississippi is one of them. The United Auto Workers union tried twice to unionize the Nissan Tennessee plant and failed both times and now they are setting their sites for Mississippi. Their strategy for this plant is to organize what they are calling “the civil rights battle of the 21st century.” The UAW thinks that since 70% of the Mississippi plant is black, and the Civil Rights movement started in Mississippi, that it should be a sure win.
“The civil rights experience was fought on that very ground,” said Gary Casteel, the UAW’s top official in the U.S. South. “We’ve been saying that worker rights are the civil rights battle of the 21st century.”
James Brown, assembly line worker at the Nissan Mississippi plant wears a baseball hat with UAW buttons on it, but states that he is not “Anti-Nissan”. He has been working in the Canton plant since the year it opened and he just thinks workers should get more of a voice in their workplace. He has a great way of explaining how many of the plant workers feel.
“You ever see a guy who goes and buys him a truck?” said Brown, “What’s the first thing he wants to put on that thing? Either a set of mud grips, or a toolbox, or some spotlights. So he’s going to take a good truck and make it better. That’s what we want to do with this job.”
Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s Chief Executive believes that a union would create problems with the smooth running operations of the plant, but he said, “We will naturally remain very neutral on this. This being said, we still continue to think that direct management of the shop floor, direct contact with our people, is the best way to make our plant extremely productive and extremely efficient.”