Taking a play from multinational corporations who have used globalization and misleadingly named ‘Free-trade’ agreements to evade taxes and drive down pay rates in the U.S., trade unions are now using their global clout to organize non-union auto plants in the Southern U.S. The latest example comes from Mississippi where the UAW has been campaigning for four years to establish a company-recognized trade union in the growing Nissan plant in Canton with its 4,000 workers. Nissan reported more than $1 billion in profits during the Japanese Q1.
Nissan employees in Japan, Spain, UK, South Africa, and Brazil have unionized relations with the automaker, but they say that union supporters in Canton face extreme intimidation and threats from management all the time.
A six-country trade union delegation representing more than 150,000 Nissan workers jointly visited Canton last week demanding that Nissan allows the formation of a UAW local. In the delegation were unions from Nissan’s corporate partner Renault, with whom the offshore labor group IndustriALL has a global agreement. IndustriALL is an organization that represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries, including Nissan and Renault workers throughout the world.
Accompanying Jyrki Raina, the leader of IndustriALL, were representatives of auto unions from six countries. They include representatives from Unite the Union in the U.K., the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW), the Japan Council of Metalworkers’ Unions (JCM), the French CGT and CFE-CGC, Spain’s MCA-UGT and CCOO, South Africa’s Metalworkers’ Union , Força Sindical and CNM-CUT from Brazil, and Workers Uniting North America.
The unions represent Nissan and Renault workers from across the world, including workers at the newly opened Nissan plant in Resende, Brazil, who are members of Força Sindical, and the 22,000 unionized Nissan workers in Japan. The European unions are also active in the Renault and Nissan Works Councils, consulting bodies that allow the company and union to jointly discuss and decide policies.
Nissan in Canton is one of three current organizing campaigns of the UAW in the Southern U.S. The other two are moving forward with UAW Local 42 close to recognition from Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and brand new Local 112 formed last Friday at Daimler in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
A spokesperson for IndustriALL told AutoInformed “international solidarity has been central to the organizing of VW and Daimler. German union IG Metall flexed its muscle to ensure neutrality from both companies and a pathway to establishing UAW union locals. The Japanese JAW and JCM are working with UAW to win similar assurances from Nissan.”