Nissan unveils Kicks at Rio Olympics faces knotty union Issues in US

UAW Ramps Up Pressure to Organize Mississippi Plant

Aug. 10, 2016
Christian Hutin, a member of the French National Assembly, is asking the French government to use its 20% stake in Renault – making it the automaker’s largest shareholder – “to help improve the situation” at sister company Nissan’s Canton, MS, plant.

Long frustrated in its dealings with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the UAW is going international in its drive to revive its stalled organizing campaign at Nissan’s assembly complex in Canton, MS.

So far, the UAW has made little headway as it takes on the Mississippi conservative political establishment, which has been hostile to trade unions for decades. “The UAW doesn’t have any support,” says one Nissan official, who asked not to be identified.

Nor has the union attempted to stage a vote at Canton as it did at the Volkswagen plant in neighboring Tennessee, which generally is hostile to unions as well.

However, the UAW and its allies in Europe and South America have succeeded in making life uncomfortable for Nissan and its CEO Carlos Ghosn, who has had to answer questions about Canton while testifying at a French National Assembly committee hearing. The UAW hasn’t forgotten Ghosn’s personal role in defeating a union organizing drive at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, TN.

French workers from Renault recently staged an eye-catching demonstration in central Paris in support of the pro-union workers in Canton and also have taken aim at Nissan’s sponsorship of the Summer Olympics in Brazil. As an official sponsor, Nissan is providing 4,200 vehicles for the Olympics and is using the event to launch its Kicks compact CUV as the official car.

The UAW says the automaker spurned its offer to meet with Christian Hutin, a member of the French National Assembly and deputy chairman of its Social Affairs Commission, who traveled to Mississippi last month on what the union called a “fact-finding mission” about the labor situation at the Canton plant.

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