March 6, 2017
March on Mississippi Held to Support Nissan Workers in Canton, Mississippi
By Region 8 Webmaster John Davis
“When we fight- we win” was the common theme at March on Mississippi held Saturday, March 4, 2017 in Canton, Mississippi. The march was held to support the workers at Canton’s Nissan Assembly Plant, where workers have been trying to organize a union. The Canton facility is one of just three Nissan plants worldwide that aren’t organized. The other two plants are in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee. All of Nissan’s other 42 plants are organized.
The UAW has been working with workers in Mississippi and Tennessee for a number of years, but Nissan officials have resisted attempts for the workers to organize. Threats and coercion have been used to discourage workers from participating in union activities. Individual employees have been threatened for organizing activities, as well. In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board filed charges against Nissan and a temporary agency for threatening to move the plant if workers organized. The plant has also been cited for health and safety violations on a number of occasions by OSHA.
The March on Mississippi was designed to show Nissan employees that they have support from the community, the UAW and workers around the world. Speakers for the event included UAW President Dennis Williams, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Bennie Thompson, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, actor Danny Glover, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Sierra Club President Aaron Mair and the Honorable Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, along with Nissan workers.
Sierra Club President Aaron Mair wore his father’s jacket, which was from his local union in Tonawanda, New York where he made engines for General Motors and was a proud UAW member. “My father knew the importance of being a union member,” Mair stated. “Some may ask why the Sierra Club is here; to that I say, because it matters! While Nissan has taken major positive steps on green transportation that deserve applause, they cannot leave workers behind.” The Sierra Club believes that racial justice, environmental justice and economic justice are the pillars that uphold a true democracy.
Actor Danny Glover grew up in a union household, where his parents were postal workers. He knows the advantage that being in a union brings to a worker and is a strong advocate for workers’ rights. Dr. King said is best when he said, “the best anti-poverty I know is to belong to a union,” Glover stated. "When we have solidarity, we can go to the collective bargaining table and talk about health care and safety and wages. When we join together, it empowers folks to get things done.”
UAW President Dennis Williams stated “There is one thing all UAW members know, that we are better together than we are apart. With a union contract we have a right to investigate health and safety issues, a voice when the company speeds up the line, and a voice in their workplace. This isn’t about being anti- Nissan, it is about being pro-worker. It is time to rise up, a time to work together and time for change.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said "The reason that we see so much anti-union activity on the part of large corporations is pretty simple: they want to see all of the profits go to the people on top and to their stockholders rather than to the workers. Studies show that if a person belongs to a union, they average wages that are 27% higher than their non-union counterparts. If Nissan workers around the world have the right to belong to a union, then American Nissan workers have that same right.”
Following the rally, the crowd of participants several thousand strong walked the three miles to the gates of the Nissan plant and rallied together for one final show of solidarity. “We want to thank everyone who came out and for the professional manner in which they conducted themselves,” states UAW Region 8 Director, Ray Curry. “The workers at Nissan deserve our support and today UAW members stood in solidarity with these workers. Working families is what we are all about and we will continue our efforts to stand with workers here in Canton.”
Click Here for A Gallery from The Event