Nissan Workers in Mississippi Reject UAW

The United Auto Workers union (“UAW”) worked for years to organize workers at Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi. The union claimed that Nissan mistreated employees, and made civil rights a strong theme of its efforts. After years of work by teams sent to the area to target Nissan employees the union finally filed a petition in July.

The election was held over two days last week. The NLRB conducted a secret ballot election and the employees voted 62% for the Company. This was a sound defeat, and another failure by the UAW to organize a large auto plant in the South.

Some of the factors involved are reminiscent of the Volkswagen election of a few years ago. Mississippi’s Republican Governor, Phil Bryant, spoke against the union. He blamed the UAW for the plant closures and other woes in Detroit. In addition, employees who supported the company organized strong and public efforts of their own.

Similarly, the union tried to apply political pressure outside the U.S. One of Nissan’s partners is the French automaker, Renault. The UAW attempted to obtain influence from Renault to make Nissan more neutral in the Mississippi election. That tactic did not work, at least this time around, as the Company waged an active counter-organizing campaign.

The UAW’s attempts to organize large auto plants in the South will continue. Those efforts should be of interest to all employers, not just those in the auto industry, because they are good examples of the tactics and contentions that unions are using in their attempts to sway employees.