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Newly unveiled summary from the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and international labor law scholar Lance Compa describes how Nissan in the United States undermines workers’ freedom of association under International Labor Organization principles
(Paris, France) – An extensive report by international labor law expert Lance Compa will be released in Paris Oct. 22 showing that Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, U.S., is in violation of international labor standards on freedom of association based on numerous accounts of workers, that U.S. management has launched a campaign of fear, interference and intimidation resulting in the denial of these rights. Workers have sought union organizing help from the United Auto Workers (UAW). The report, which was first presented at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on October 8, and is also being released at an event in Brazil.
The report advances that the company should respect human rights standards on workers’ freedom of association in the United States, as it does with unions all over the world, and as does its Alliance partner Renault, who also has a proven track record of constructive social dialogue with its employees. Renault and Nissan is a group of two global companies linked by a cross-shareholding, with Renault holding a 43.4 per cent stake in Nissan, and Nissan holding a 15 per cent stake in Renault. In France, Nissan partner Renault works in cooperation with unions and has a strong culture of corporate social responsibility, as illustrated by a recently signed Global Framework Agreement to advance employee rights in its worldwide operations.
The French unions, CFDT, CGT, CFE-CGC and Force Ouvrière, are supporting Mississippi workers and have shown great solidarity by visiting the autoworker community in Mississippi, and sending an open letter to Renault. The UAW ‘s efforts are also winning the endorsement of Nissan’s Japanese unions, and sympathetic unions have staged demonstrations protesting Nissan’s tactics in Brazil, in South Africa and at the Geneva auto show.
In the Canton plant, according to the report, Nissan has launched a campaign of fear and intimidation to nullify these rights.
“Our research shows that Nissan is not living up to the standards of worker treatment enshrined in International Labor Organization (ILO) core labor standards, UN human rights principles, and other international norms. It also belies Nissan’s own public commitments to honor international standards through its membership in the United Nations Global Compact,” said Compa, an American lawyer currently based in Europe. “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.”
Worker Jeff Moore, a body shop quality technician hired in 2001, stated that anti-union intimidation began early on. “In the first meetings, managers told us that Nissan is totally non-union and didn’t want any part of unions, that unions make plants close,” said Moore. “Everything they said about unions was negative, nothing positive. It’s like they were drilling it into our heads, stay away from the union,” said Moore.
Workers also recounted “captive audience” meetings in which they were forced to watch films and hear speeches filled with implicit threats of plant closure if they formed a union, and orchestrated one-on-one meetings with supervisors warning of dire consequences if they choose union representation.
Nissan, the report says, also targets their 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.
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