Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union, opened the ceremony and explained that while Nissan plants are organized all over the world, this is not the case in the U.S.
Nissan USA is denying workers in its Mississippi plant a fair union election and using a campaign of fear to discourage employees from considering a union.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mississippi Nissan workers Michael Carter and Willard “Chip” Wells Jr. described the situation that they face.
“Nissan let’s us know, they don’t want a union in Mississippi,” said Michael Carter.
“They try to scare you about unions. They imply the plant will close if we support a union. We need a fair process so that workers can make up their own minds,” he said.
Nissan has run a fear campaign to prevent workers from organizing a union, which has included:
- Holding anti-union meetings and roundtable discussions to create an atmosphere of fear
- Showing plant-wide, anti-union videos on TV monitors during the workday
- Implying to workers that unionization results in plant closure or lay-offs.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Nissan worker Chip Wells said, “We want to work together with Nissan. It is a good company that makes good cars. With a union representing us we can make better cars and be more productive.”
The workers, supported by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate UAW, were joined by members of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), an organization representing clergy, elected officials, civil rights activists and students.
A delegation of the workers, clergy and UAW organizing staff are in Geneva 5 to 10 March to highlight the violations of labour standards and ask visitors and members of the press attending the Geneva Auto Show to “look beneath the shine of Nissan.”