Nissan Workers Win Organizing Drive with Help from Their Friends
All workers at Nissan’s Parts Distribution Center in Somerset, New Jersey, wanted was a fair shake, but that was becoming more difficult when their employer decided that a skimpy 46 cents an hour raise over the last 13 years was plenty – despite the billions of dollars in profits it made over the years.
“We’re not looking to break the bank,” said Ray Thomas, one of the key workers who supported a recent organizing drive to bring the UAW into the facility.
Breaking the bank would not benefit the workers who help get parts to dealers throughout the country. They essentially do the same job as members of UAW Local 2210, which represents workers at the Ford Customer Service Division parts warehouse in Cranbury, New Jersey. Members there played key roles in helping their new brothers and sisters win their organizing drive on a 2-to-1 majority back in March
“Our members at Local 2210 know the struggles that Nissan workers go through each day as they supply parts around the country,” said UAW Region 9 Director Jeff Binz. “They also know that being a UAW member is the best way to win respect, dignity and economic fairness in the workplace. We salute our courageous new members at Nissan and congratulate members of Local 2210 for playing such a pivotal and successful role in the organizing drive.”
Kenny Smith started at the Nissan facility in 1989 and was one of the leaders in the effort to bring the UAW in. Mandatory overtime with late notice, arbitrary scheduling resulting in a loss of shift differential and other reasons contributed to the vote in favor of representation.
“We did our homework and felt like this would be a much better building with a union,” Smith said.
Nissan, as anti-union an employer as there is, pushed back hard, telling workers they do not need representation and that any problems could be worked out with management. They brought in people from corporate and held mandatory anti-union captive audience meetings.
“None of it worked. We listened to it because we had to,” Smith said. “We weren’t buying it. We worked with them and we saw what we got, which was nothing.”
Ford worker Darren Felton, a member of Local 2210 who had worked at the Nissan facility, told him that if he ever wanted the UAW’s help, all he had to do was ask. Smith asked and was put in touch with Local 2210 President Pete Murphy.
The local offered all kinds of support. In addition to Felton, and Murphy, Local 2210 members Iona Scott, Bernard Banham and Al Richardson were among those who helped by getting Nissan workers to understand how a union works and how it can help them.
“They (Nissan workers) were told by management that they didn’t deserve the money they are making,” Murphy said.
The workers also received help from UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. “Director Binz, Pete Murphy and his crew at Local 2210 were instrumental in making this happen for us,” Thomas said.
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