Why Workers Want a Union

Workers are proud of the quality work they do at Nissan, and want the company to succeed in Mississippi. They are happy that Nissan chose to locate in Mississippi and provide much-needed jobs in the community. Nissan workers are both pro-union and pro-Nissan. They want a union’s help to make both Nissan and the workers successful.

Nissan workers need a voice to achieve fairness in the workplace.

They need the security of knowing that when they speak up about safety or quality, their job isn’t in danger. With a union, workers can sit down with management to discuss the important issues of working conditions, policies, pay and benefits, as well as ways to improve the company’s processes and products. Workers would also use a voice in the workplace to ensure Nissan does right by Mississippi. Mississippi community members expect more from Nissan than intimidation in the workplace. Here are some Nissan employees sharing their stories and their reasons for saying yes to a union:

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Workers in all communities – in all parts of the U.S. and abroad – have a fundamental right to decide freely whether to have a union represent their interests.

In Japanese plants, Nissan management cooperates with unions. In France, Nissan’s partner Renault also works with unions. Nissan willingly works with unions in their own country and around the world, but discourages them in America. American workers deserve to have a voice, so they can have the same dignity and respect as their Japanese and French co-workers.

Workers want fairness in pay and benefits

When foreign automakers receive large tax incentives from state and local governments to locate their facilities there, like the $363 million Nissan received for its Canton, Mississippi, plant, they should be more engaged in treating workers fairly to create stronger communities for their workforce.

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This is not simply about money. It’s about fairness. Workers doing the same job less than 400 miles apart should be treated fairly and equally.

Allowing workers to be represented by a union will require management to explain and account for such discrepancies. Working together, we can do better.

A large temporary workforce cannot build our communities

Nissan has made it a business practice to employ a high percentage of “temporary workers” by contracting with agencies like Kelly Services and Yates. These workers can work alongside regular employees for years and years, with no job security, less pay and limited benefits. Because of their endless “temporary” status, these workers cannot adequately plan for their future. This injustice isn’t a Southern issue or a blue-collar issue. It’s about American values and building our communities.

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Community leaders in Mississippi have taken note, and many are stepping out in support of Nissan workers because it’s what is right for the Mississippi community.

Nissan’s decision to use a large number of “temps” from labor agencies instead of hiring its own workers directly is not a good way to do business in the long term. Regular workers (Nissan calls them “technicians”) and temps (Nissan calls temps “Nissan Associates”) do the same work. But the temps get less pay and fewer benefits. And most important, there is no sense of job security for temporary workers who have been loyal to Nissan for years.

Temporary workers are less able to plan for their families – for buying a home, saving for their children or planning retirement. Use of a temporary workforce doesn’t grow our communities and, it weakens the middle class.

Unfortunately, the use of temporary workers is becoming an increasingly important part of Nissan’s business model. According to workers at Nissan’s Canton plant, almost all the new jobs Nissan is creating in production – nearly 1,000 – are being filled by temps. Nissan should immediately acknowledge that these “temp” workers are actually the same as Nissan technicians, and they should give up their “temporary worker” model of employment.


One of the reasons Nissan employees want to have a union is to have a voice in the pattern of substituting temps for regular jobs. Workers want to sit down and negotiate with Nissan about “temporary” status for workers. If they cannot negotiate, they fear that the use of temps will continue to grow. This means less stability for people who work for Nissan and live in Mississippi.

Nissan can change its temporary worker practices and still be a successful company. Nissan’s production workers should be treated as real employees, not “temps.”

Unions counterbalance multinational companies

Big global corporations like Nissan have the power to pit workers in every country against each other by threatening to move if workers exercise their right to choose to have a union represent them.  There is a way to achieve a balance of power against these corporations. Mississippi State NAACP President Derrick Johnson says that for the United States to be the country it is supposed to be, we must support our workers. The NAACP’s goal is to ensure equal protection under the law is guaranteed for all citizens – this also extends to workers to have the right to decide whether they are represented by union. “At the NAACP, we support Nissan workers because it’s the right thing to do,” said Johnson.  “There is no reason why in this country, workers should be treated as less than workers in Japan or Brazil.”

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Unionized workers at Nissan all over the world are supporting the Do Better Together campaign, because they know that if Nissan can suppress union rights in the U.S., they can do it anywhere. With a union, contracts can limit the company’s movement of jobs abroad.

Workers have the greatest stake in preserving jobs in their communities. More than anyone, they want Nissan to be successful for the long haul, right here in the U.S.A.