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Pro-Union Nissan Workers Claim Threats, Intimidation

By Daniel Cherry | Published 30 Jan 2013 12:45am | comments
Some workers at the Nissan plant in Canton claim intimidation and discrimination over their attempts to unionize. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, the workers have now gained the support of a high-profile activist.
 
At Tougaloo College in Jackson Tuesday evening, several hundred workers and supporters called for the right to decide whether to unionize the Nissan plant without, what they call, threats from the company. 
 
Headlining the rally was actor, Danny Glover. Glover spoke in favor of the workers' efforts to bring union labor to the plant. 
 
Glover says, "What makes me do what I do is, I came up in a union family. My parents were union people. They believed in the union. I was nurtured on the ideals of the union, and I believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King says, a union is the best anti-poverty program that he knows."
 
Some pro-union workers claim intimidation and threats of losing their jobs if they vote in favor of a union. Most at the rally didn't point to outright threats, but many like Malcom Sutton say they've seen strong hints.
 
"They tell you, you've got the right. You can sign. You've got your own opinion" says Sutton. "You can sign or don't sign them, but I advise you not to sign them. It's just like, 'If you sign them, we're going to fire you.'"
 
Nissan officials weren't on hand to refute any of the claims, but in a statement the company denied such allegations and say the overwhelming majority of employees don't support unionizing. Additionally, wages at Nissan are well above average for the area. But Isiac Jackson, Chairman of Mississippians for Fairness at Nissan, says the plant may employ 5 thousand people, but many of those are temporary employees, paid well less than the average Nissan rate.
 
Jackson says, "Why can't you hire the person and pay them the right salary? Does that make sense? Why is it that you (Nissan) can give all this money to an agency that pays half the price to the worker?"
 
The United Auto Workers Union has targeted the plant to present its message to workers, but, so far, Nissan has refused. Nissan worker Morris Mock says he just wants a fair election.
 
"I'm not naive. I know that some people want it and some people don't. But let them hear both sides before they make that decision. I don't think that the company should say, 'Let's not have it' before hearing both sides", says Mock.
 
Organizers need at least 30 percent of employees to sign a petition before the issue can go to a popular vote.

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