Nissan returns Calvin Moore to job with full back-pay after weeks of public demonstrations by Brazilian unions
(Canton, Miss.) – Today Calvin Moore, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, returns to his job in the Body Shop at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant. An eleven year employee of the Japanese automaker, Moore was one of the most outspoken supporters of organizing a union at Nissan. Moore and his coworkers are trying to organize with the United Auto Workers union (UAW), so they can have a say in the way Nissan treats its injured workers and in Nissan’s reliance on large numbers of low wage temporary workers the company has hired. Nissan management has responded to their efforts with anti-union videos, roundtable meetings, and one-on-one sessions with supervisors that include threats to close the plant and disparaging remarks about the UAW. Moore and his coworkers have formed a fair election committee and are asking Nissan to grant them a fair union election, free of threats and intimidation.
Moore regularly wore pro-union t-shirts inside the plant and refused to answer questions about his union support when a supervisor tried to interrogate him. Moore was terminated on March 5, 2014, for “insubordination.” Later, Nissan citied a warning he received four years earlier. Moore requested documentation justifying the reasons for termination, but Nissan refused. With no legitimate reason for his termination, Moore believes he was terminated for his open support for the union.
Moore’s termination inspired a series of demonstrations by workers and labor unions in Brazil, who in the past have sent delegations to Mississippi to share their support for Nissan workers in their struggle for a fair union election. On April 3, three of Brazil’s largest labor federations protested outside a Nissan dealership in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. Workers turned out to demand Moore’s reinstatement, displaying signs that read “we are with you Calvin Moore” in Portuguese. Workers at the Renault/Nissan plant in Curitiba, Brazil, also distributed flyers throughout their plant, explaining that Moore had been terminated for his union support and urging workers to stand in solidarity with Moore.
Moore’s termination also ignited a firestorm of support on social media, including a March 28 Facebook post from celebrity activist Danny Glover, who met Moore and has appeared with Moore at campus events in support of Nissan workers. Glover also publicly demanded Moore’s reinstatement at a concert last month at Jackson State University, headlined by rapper and actor Common and held in support of Nissan workers.
Students and young people also rallied for Moore’s return to work. Concerned Students for a Better Nissan (CSBN), a coalition of students and organizations on campuses throughout the U.S. who are standing with Nissan workers in their fight for a fair union election, also mobilized social media and campus support for Moore. Moore spoke of his unjust termination to several hundred student activists at a stop on CSBN’s Nissan Truth Tour in New Orleans last month. Wednesday, a group of 8 students from Jackson State University and Tougaloo College, visited the Canton Nissan Plant, demanding that Nissan management meet with them to discuss Moore’s termination and the need for a fair union election.
“Young people define the struggle for a fair election as the new civil rights movement. We say to Nissan that our generation will not stand for a company that attacks those who speak up for fairness. We see Calvin’s reinstatement as a victory, but we will keep fighting until there is justice at Nissan,” said Laura Cooper, Vice President of the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance (MSJA) and Sophomore at Tougaloo College. The MSJA at Tougaloo College was the first student group to stand up for Nissan workers and has helped build a student movement in support of a fair election at Nissan. Under the umbrella of CSBN, MSJA is joined by organizations on dozens of campuses in nine states and in Brazil and South Africa.
“We are pleased that Nissan corrected the unjust termination of Calvin Moore and sincerely hope this is an indication of a change in course, of a willingness to restore the civil rights of all Nissan workers in the U.S. by allowing workers to make a free choice about representation in an environment free of threats and intimidation,” said Kimar Cain, President of the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance and Senior at Tougaloo College.
On Friday, just two days after the student protest, Moore received a notice from Nissan management, advising him to return to work Monday and stating that he will receive full back-pay for his time away from work. Moore returns to his job in the Body Shop today. “I am truly humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from my coworkers, Danny Glover, Common, students, workers and unions in Brazil, MAFFAN, the UAW and the Mississippi NAACP. I am excited to get back to what I do best, building Nissan cars. I know now, more than ever, that with so many people around the world behind us, Nissan workers will achieve a fair union election,” said Moore.