On March 4, over 1,000 protesters plan to march at the Nissan auto manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. The protesters, who will be marching to demand a union, will be joined by current Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
"As we meet with workers, we see a heightened level of frustration and concern about the atmosphere and treatment at the plant," Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said to The Clarion-Ledger. "Far too often we are receiving repeated complaints."
The complaints "...include aggressive policies and practices of union avoidance, harassment and intimidation, which instill fear at work with the aim of preventing workers from securing union representation," a statement by the IndustriALL Global Union released in December noted. "For years, management at Nissan and Renault have repeatedly ignored calls from workers and policy-makers to use their powers to address these global human rights violations."
"A growing number of workers at Nissan's plant in Canton, Mississippi, have expressed their desire for union representation as a reaction to poor and deteriorating working conditions," the statement by IndustriALL added. "By some estimates, many of the 5,000 workers at Nissan's Mississippi plant are temporary employees who work for years earning significantly lower wages and benefits than regular employees. Workers also are concerned about safety issues inside the plant which recently led to a fine by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration."
Nissan pushed back against those accusations in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger: "Nissan's history reflects that we truly value our employees and respect their right to decide who should represent them. Nissan Canton employees enjoy good, stable, safe jobs with some of the highest wages and strongest benefits in Mississippi. The allegations being made by the union against Nissan are completely unfounded."
“Nissan has union representation at 42 out of its 45 plants around the world,” Sen. Sanders said in a statement. “The American South should not be treated differently. What the workers at the Nissan plant in Mississippi are doing is a courageous and enormously important effort to improve their lives.”
In addition to Sen. Sanders, actor Donald Glover will also attend the march.
“Powerful corporations like Nissan are the poster child for America’s rigged economy,” Glover said. “Nissan’s arrival in Canton promised good jobs for the community, but instead the company has committed rampant safety and health violations and denied its workers their basic right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation."