The brave road Nissan workers have traveled so far


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Nissan workers are approaching a crossroads that was a long time coming as they finish up voting tonight. We will have more information when the votes are tallied and the vote totals released.

In the meantime, here’s the brave road Nissan workers have traveled so far:

APRIL 2014
The UAW aligns with the IndustriALL Global Union to seek assistance from the U.S. National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in responding to Nissan’s violations of workers’ organizing rights in Canton, Miss. The UAW and IndustriALL say the company is using “threats, intimidation and fear” to keep a union out of the plant, in violation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The request for assistance from the OECD, which promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world, follows years of good-faith efforts by Nissan workers and the UAW to reach an agreement with the company to allow a fair union election in Canton.

The U.S. NCP determines that the issues raised by the UAW and IndustriALL are “material and substantiated and merit further examination.”However, Nissan rejects the U.S. NCP’s offer to mediate the dispute, leading the NCP to say in a statement that it “regrets Nissan’s unwillingness to participate in the process.” Later, the UAW and IndustriALL make additional requests to OECD National Contact Points in Europe and Asia, where Nissan has active corporate and manufacturing operations and business alliances.
The NLRB files a complaint against Nissan and a contract worker agency for violating workers’ rights at the company’s Mississippi plant. The UAW, which has long alleged that Nissan is intimidating workers, made the charges leading to the NLRB complaint, which finds that Nissan managers “threatened employees with termination because of their union activities … interrogated employees about their union support … [and] threatened employees with plant closure if they choose the union as their representative.”
In a hearing before the French National Assembly, Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Nissan, Renault, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, denies allegations that Nissan opposes employee representation in Mississippi, saying the company “has no tradition of not cooperating with unions.” The next day, in Brazil, union representatives deliver a letter to organizers of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro stating that Nissan is violating Olympics sponsorship guidelines by undermining workers’ rights in Mississippi.
MARCH 2016
On the heels of Ghosn’s seemingly pro-labor comments to the French National Assembly, Nissan broadcasts a video inside the Mississippi plant in which a plant manager states: “We believe that it is not in the best interest of our employees, our customers, or our community to have the UAW here.”
APRIL 2016
A top official in the French National Assembly calls on the French government to weigh in on behalf of workers at Nissan’s Mississippi plant who want to have a union vote without management intimidation and threats. Christian Hutin, deputy chairman of the Social Affairs Commission and member of the National Assembly, says France should help Mississippi workers by using its leverage as a major shareholder in Nissan’s business partner, the car manufacturer Renault. With an approximately 20 percent stake in Renault, the French government is the largest shareholder in Renault, which in turn is the largest shareholder in Nissan.
A U.S. magistrate judge hands down a federal warrant against Nissan, allowing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to inspect the Canton plant in order to determine whether the company is providing a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees.” Nissan attempts to quash the warrant.
Based on new developments, including the NLRB complaint and repeated health and safety violations at Nissan’s Mississippi plant, the UAW and IndustriALL renew their request to the OECD — this time seeking assistance from National Contact Points (NCPs) in the Netherlands, where the Renault-Nissan Alliance is incorporated, as well as France and Japan, where the companies have active corporate and manufacturing operations.
OSHA issues citations finding that Nissan “did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees” and that the company did not “provide adequate training to ensure that employees acquired the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of energy control devices.”
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