Workers at Mississipi Nissan plant reject becoming unionised

Workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to unionise.

Out of roughly 3,500 employees at the Canton, Mississippi, plant who voted on Thursday and Friday, over 60 per cent opposed the unionising. The result of the poll comes as a major setback to a year-long organising effort backed by United Automobile Workers, which has repeatedly failed to organise major auto plants in the region.

The election campaign at the plant, which employs a large majority of African-American workers, frequently took on racial overtones. Some employees alleged that white supervisors dispensed special treatment to white subordinates, a charge the company emphatically denied.

Anti-union workers on their part, highlighted the UAW's contributions to local civil rights and religious groups, and accused the union of trying to buy support in the African-American community.

The final result might have had a lot to do with a fear of change, according to commentators.

Veteran workers at the plant get paid $26 per hour, typically only a few dollars less than peers represented by the union at the major US automakers, and well above the median wage in Mississippi.

Nissan also pays about a similar percentage of employees' incomes into their retirement accounts, as the Michigan automakers.

A spokeswoman for Nissan Motor Co said late yesterday that the union lost a pivotal vote by 3,700 eligible workers. He added with the final vote total was 2,244 to 1,307.

Nissan said the victory over the UAW was a sign of the strength of non-unionised factories in the South.

''With this vote, the voice of Nissan employees has been heard. They have rejected the UAW and chosen to self-represent, continuing the direct relationship they enjoy with the company,'' the company said in a statement released late last night.

''Our expectation is that the UAW will respect and abide by their decision and cease their efforts to divide our Nissan family. Now that the election is complete, Nissan will focus on bringing all employees back together as one team, building great vehicles and writing our next chapter in Mississippi.''