French and US trade unions joined forces with IndustriALL and French parliamentarians on 12 October in Paris, to call on Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn to stop the anti-union practices at the Nissan plant, Canton, Mississippi.
For more than 10 years, management at the Nissan factory in Canton, Mississippi has been intimidating workers who show an interest in unionizing. On 12 October, trade unions from France and the US, workers from the Nissan plant, civil society leaders and a gospel choir marched together with American actor and activist Danny Glover through Paris to the French parliament building, l’Assemblée Nationale.
Danny Glover says that Nissan continues to threaten workers who want to join a union.
“Workers’ rights are civil rights and our message is simple - enough is enough. Nissan must stop intimidating the workers and let them vote for a union without company interference.”
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft told the rally:
“Unions rights are fundamental and universal. Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi should have the same right to join a union as workers in France and Japan.”
The delegation was met by a number of parliamentarians who are demanding that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn take a closer look at the social dialogue in Canton.
Christian Hutin, member of l’Assemblé National, said:
“France is the country of freedom and human rights, and we are asking Carlos Ghosn to act to change what is happening in Canton. The workers are not asking for a revolution, they are simply asking for fair treatment!”
This spring, after Ghosn had told the l’Assemblé National that he cooperates with unions wherever they operate and that there is no anti union tradition at Nissan in Mississippi, the company launched a comprehensive anti-union campaign including showing a video designed to scare workers away from the union.
Sanchioni Butler has spent the last 12 years organizing on behalf of the United Autoworkers (UAW) for change in Canton. With no access to the plant and substantial anti-union propaganda by the company, she meets workers in their homes.
“A lot of the workers don’t even think they have a right to join a union. And they are afraid; management says that the plant will close if there is a union.
“But I will keep going; every time I reach one person there is hope for another day.”
The National Labor Relations Board, an agency of the U.S. government has charged Nissan with:
- Threatening, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of their right to organize a union
- Threatening to close the plant if workers unionize
- Threatened to falsify employee records to retaliate against workers
- Unlawfully instituted a company uniform policy that effectively banned workers from wearing pro-union t-shirts
Many of the 5,000 workers at the Nissan factory are on temporary contracts and safety conditions at the plant are a major concern: Nissan has been fined at least twice for safety violations.