In Canton, Miss., automaker Nissan is in violation of international labor standards on freedom of association through its aggressive interference with workers trying to exercise their fundamental right to organize a union, according to a new report released today by Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson and international labor law expert Lance Compa.
Johnson says, “Nissan has launched a campaign of fear and intimidation” at the Canton plant, where some 4,000 workers are struggling for a voice at work to improve conditions and secure decent work for more members of their community.
Compa, a U.S. lawyer currently based in Europe, says that Nissan is not living up to the International Labor Organization (ILO) core labor standards, U.N. human rights principles and other international norms. Those standards ban employers from:
- Imposing pressure, instilling fear and making threats of any kind that undermine workers’ right to freedom of association.
- Creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear with respect to union organizing.
- Pressuring or threatening retaliatory measures against workers if they choose union representation.
- Denying reasonable access for workers to hear from union representatives inside the workplace.
Workers’ descriptions of how they are treated behind the walls of the massive Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., affirm that Nissan is systematically interfering with the internationally recognized right to form a union.
In the report, Choosing Rights: Nissan in Canton, Miss., and Workers’ Freedom of Association Under International Human Rights Standards, workers describe intensive anti-union captive audience meetings in which they were forced to watch films and hear speeches filled with implicit threats of plant closure if they form a union, and one-on-one meetings with supervisors warning of dire consequences if they choose union representation.
Also, the report says, Nissan targets its anti-union behavior at hundreds of “associates” or temporary workers, known as precarious workers globally, many of whom do the same work as regular Nissan employees but are paid lower wages and have less job security. The report concludes temp workers, because of their tenuous situation, often feel even more susceptible to the company’s intimidation and climate of fear if they support a union.
The report calls on Nissan to end its anti-union campaign and affirm the workers' right to organize; end its threats to close the plant if the workers vote for union representation; commit to bargain in good faith if the workers choose union representation; and grant access to UAW representatives so employees can receive information from the union inside the workplace.