Nissan workers demand fair pay (December 2014)

As 2014 comes to a close, there’s overwhelming demand for a raise for all Nissan workers.

Larry Tate

Larry Tate

Nissan has had a profitable year. Nissan reported that in the first half of fiscal 2014, the company had net revenue of 5.1446 trillion yen and operating profit of 261.9 billion yen, selling 2,581,000 vehicles globally.

There’s no question that Mississippi Nissan workers have contributed to Nissan achieving this success. Many Nissan workers work over-time and sacrifice time with family in order to help the company meet its numbers. Nissan workers put their bodies on the line, sometimes to the point of physical pain, in order to keep up with Nissan’s production demands. Nissan workers make sacrifices that allow Nissan to prosper. It’s the workforce’s dedication to Nissan and commitment to building quality vehicles that makes Nissan successful.

Many are calling for workers to have a share in that success. That means putting an end to unequal pay for equal work. “Whether we are Nissan, Kelly or Pathways, we are all making Nissan cars and helping Nissan succeed through our hard work. What’s fair…is fair. Kelly and other temporary workers deserve the opportunity to earn full Nissan pay. It’s plain and simple. They do the same work as us Nissan technicians and ought to be on our pay scale,” said Nissan technician Larry Tate. Nissan has been criticized about its mistreatment of long-term temporary workers and has created the Pathways Program, which transitions some Kelly workers to Nissan employment after a period of time. However, even after transitioning to Nissan employment, Pathways workers are denied entry into the existing Nissan pay structure, with no opportunity to reach the top hourly wage of existing Nissan workers. “Pathways workers shouldn’t be shortchanged either. They deserve the chance to earn full Nissan pay. What’s the point of calling them Nissan technicians if they don’t earn Nissan pay?” Larry adds.

In November, management announced a $2.45 per hour raise (effective January 1, 2015) for maintenance workers. Many are demanding that Nissan issue an hourly raise to all Nissan production workers. In the last eight years, direct Nissan workers have had only a single “across the board” hourly increase despite increases in the cost of living. That increase was the $0.55 per hour raise issued in October 2013. “We know Nissan only issued that raise because they felt they had to. With so many workers speaking in favor of forming a union, I think they thought they could appease some by offering more pay,” said Sandra Fulgram, a Nissan technician of eleven years.

Many have also noted that there is still a wage gap between workers at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant and workers at the Canton plant. A Nissan production worker at the top of the pay scale in Smyrna still earns $1.70 more per hour than a production worker at the top of the pay scale in Canton. Many Nissan workers are calling for an end to this pay disparity. Sandra Fulgram is just one of the thousands of employees calling for a raise in Canton. She adds, “We are not greedy. The company to which we have dedicated our careers and our bodies is succeeding. It’s about time that we, in Mississippi, get to share in that success.”