High profile Democratic party leaders and Hollywood celebrities are partnering with the United Auto Workers (UAW) to help big labor gain footing in southern states.
The UAW won a deal with Japanese-based Nissan Motor Co. that will allow close to 4,000 full-time employees at its Canton, Miss., plant to vote on whether or not to organize as a labor union.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez addressed workers and UAW supporters by video conference Tuesday.
Unions are the best way to give American workers a fair shot. Workers in MS are being intimidated to vote no. https://t.co/Rms3etKrb3
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) August 1, 2017
Hollywood actor and supporter of Sanders’ failed 2016 presidential bid Danny Glover visited a UAW office in Canton to meet with workers, some of whom will be voting in the election.
The vote, which takes place Aug. 3 and 4, marks the largest public effort by organized labor to gain ground in the deep south since President Donald Trump’s election. The UAW has been fighting to organize the plant since 2012.
Sanders and other civil rights activists attended the “March on Mississippi” where they accused Nissan of trying to intimidate workers from unionizing. The company has denied the charges.
Nissan argues that UAW representation is not in the best interest of Nissan Canton or its workers. The UAW accuses Nissan of preventing workers from unionizing.
“There’s no question UAW organizers have their sights set on auto manufacturing in Southern Right to Work states as a way of replenishing their dues coffers,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While they’ve lost membership and jobs with the traditional Big Three, other car companies that are better known for making cars in Europe or Japan have been expanding and creating thousands of good jobs in Right to Work states.”
Union leaders have previously targeted plants in the South. The UAW attempted to organize Nissan’s Tennessee facility in the past to no avail. Nissan has long argued to its Mississippi-based employees that union representation isn’t a good idea and that they already have some of the best salaries and benefits in all of Mississippi.
The UAW has criticized the Canton plant for failing to protect workers’ safety and for relying on contract workers, who they can pay less.
TheDCNF has reached out to both the UAW and Nissan for comment but did not hear back by press time.
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