“Look beneath the shine,” say Nissan workers

DETROIT – With Detroit’s huge North American International Auto Show taking place a block away, the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), an organization representing clergy, elected officials, civil rights activists and students, held a press conference to emphasize how the auto giant is unfairly treating its 3,300 workers at its Canton, Mississippi plant.

They were joined by actor, humanitarian, and activist Danny Glover.

Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, “in Mississippi we have struggled far too long, far too hard, for disenfranchised workers to have a voice. If Nissan allows its workers in Japan, France and Israel to organize, why shouldn’t workers here have the same rights? Democracy calls for that.”

When the Canton workers began to organize with the United Auto Workers (UAW), plant worker Morris Mock said Nissan responded by showing anti-union videos and implying “the factory is going to shut down” if the union came in.

Mock, who started at the plant when it first opened ten years ago, said, “All we want is a fair election.” He declared: “The UAW didn’t call us, we called them.”

He also questioned Nissan’s public stand that there is little support for the union saying “If they believe there is no support, why are they afraid of having a union election? We are not focused on pay, we want a voice,” he added.

Another ten-year Nissan worker, Michael Carter, said workers are afraid to report injuries because they must first see a company doctor who often recommends a quick return to work. Termination is likely if workers can no longer perform their old job, he said.

Glover said while auto manufacturers are unveiling their “new models” we are expected to buy, there has to be a “new model of engagement” with Nissan workers “centered around fairness, justice, and focused on raising the standard of living for workers in Mississippi.”

He said by standing up for their families and their community, Nissan workers have taken a “courageous stand” and he’ll be travelling over the world and country, giving voice to their fight for justice.

Reverend R. Isiac Jackson Jr., President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi and Chair of MAFFAN said it was outrageous in a state where voting was long oppressed, for Nissan to come and again say “you don’t have the right to choose.”

He noted when Nissan first came to Mississippi they were given all kinds of tax breaks because of their promise to provide full-time jobs. However since 2006, those being hired at the plant are temporary workers. What’s “strange” said Jackson is that Nissan pays the temp agency $24.00 for each worker hired while the workers receive only $12.00. “Why can’t Nissan hire employees straight out and pay them the $24,” he asked.

Mock, who has travelled to Brazil to meet with Nissan workers, said Nissan workers from Japan to South Africa are behind us “100 percent.”

“We have global support. It’s a great feeling to have rest of world behind us.”

For more information on the fight of Nissan workers to organize, go to www.beneaththeshine.org

 Photo: Michael Carter, Nissan worker.   John Rummel/PW


John Rummel
John Rummel

John Rummel covers events in Michigan for the People's World. Following politics from a young age, John grew up in the Midwest, moved east and has now returned to his "roots." It's not politics-only for John; he loves sports, the outdoors and a cold beer or two!




  • Read the Objects of the UAW in the UAW Constitution.

    This newuaw is in violation of every one of them.

  • This newuaw bears no resemblance to the UAW. It traitors against it’s own Constitutional mandates to defend and extend Solidarity. For a generation and a half, this newuaw has promoted Toyotism, and dog eat dog competition between our locals and within our plants. More than a MILLION UAW jobs have been conceded by the Corporatist leadership of this newuaw.

    I have been a REAL UAW member since 1972. My Real UAW Brothers, spin in their graves over what this new uaw leadership has done to their beloved UAW, which did so much for so many workers in America.

    Ask the newuaw rep for a copy of the UAW Constitution. Go to The Objects of the UAW page. Ask the rep why this uaw is in opposition to the UAW’s Objectives.

  • The comments by Tom Laney is incorrect and without merit. workers have always had a voice in the UAW. Infact, the UAW is member driven and the leaders follow the wishes of the membership. The losses we suffered was mandated by the Federal Gov. do to the loans to save the company. If you don’t know this union don’t make bogus comments. It is the company that closes plant, it is the union that negotiated language that gaurantees the workers placement.

  • I agree with Glover, that everyone who works for an honest living, deserves an honest, forceful and democratic Trade Union that fights for it’s member and social justice. But apparently, Glover has missed what the cocporatist uaw has been doing to its members with its Dog-Eat-Dog programs over the past generation. You don’t get a voice with the new uaw, you get a kick in the ass, wage and job cuts and your plant closed. Nissan workers deserve a REAL Trade Union. I hope they will lead the way for all of us for a new Solidarity Movement in America.

  • The free use of the term, Democracy, goes completely against the concepts of government, as envisioned by the founders. They wanted to avoid a Democracy at all costs, instead making sure to write the Constitution and amendments initially to direct us toward a Republic. Please read this article to understand the distinction between the two. http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html


  • Interesting, legally they cannot require these workers to see a company doctor–worker’s comp allows them to see whomever they want unless things are radically different in MS.

  • I would not consider any group who associates themselves in any way with the communist party as is so clearly indicated at the very bottom of the page this article is on. It is precisely why I do not care for these unions today, they have been hijacked and the enormous amount of money these unions take in is spent on pushing a leftist political agenda. Back in the day the unions would actually use this pool of money to pay the strikers while on strike. Unions were created primarily to force employers to provide a safe work environment, to pay for injuries incurred in that environment, and to pay a fair wages. If you look more closely behind the curtains and read the fine print you may find these unions to be not in America’s best interest. Start a new one, or just be a united people, but leave the biased political agenda out of it and you would have my vote. Not that anyone would want it. 

  • I congratulate the brave workers and urge them to continue their against Nissan. The workers deserve a voice thru their union for collective batgaing. Stay strong Brothers and Sisters!

  • It’s the same old story; H&M (swiss), Wallmart (china) or Boing (NC)

    If they can get away with murder they will.

    And it’s no coincidence these plants settle in “right to work states” and then give away the workers rights and give away the states treasury to boot!

    stick together and we will win!

  • It is criminal how companies can twart the efforts of workers to unionize. But until we change the make up of Congress – these companies will continue to get away with murder – literally and figuratively.

  • Organization is the only way to get out of this deepening hole the ole economic system is taking us.


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