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Workers Pushing for UAW Union at Nissan in Canton

By Daniel Cherry | Published 04 Jun 2012 06:24pm | comments

The United Auto Workers Union is hoping to gain a foothold in Mississippi. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the UAW has their eyes set on the Nissan plant in Canton.

Rosalind Essex is a line worker at the Nissan plant in Canton. She says employees there are subject to irregular work hours, mandatory overtime, and unsafe working conditions. She thinks a contract would solve those problems, and she wants the United Auto Workers Union to help.

"We just want to be able to say, 'This is our livelihood.' We want to be able to work up under a contract just like anyone else. Everyone in management is working under a contract. We want to work up under a contract as well."

A UAW representative says workers at Nissan in Canton are paid on average nearly two dollars less per hour than employees at other Nissan plants. That's why the Mississippi NAACP is speaking out in support of unionizing the plant. Derrick Johnson is the state president.

"That is a human rights issue. That is an issue of priorities. Where do we place the value of our workers? The skill Level of our workers? The priority of our workers? To ensure that we're competitive and our workers are paid a fair wage."

Organizers need at least 30 percent of employees to sign a petition before the issue of unionizing can go to a popular vote. Nissan spokesman, Dave Reuter says Nissan and employees have a long-standing, good relationship.

"We've never had to lay an employee off. We've kept our employees working during the tough times, during the downturn. We think the only way we can continue to do that is if we have this open relationship with our team members."

Reuter says in 2005 and 2007 attempts to unionize at Nissan in Canton failed to get enough support from workers to bring the issue to a vote. 

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