UAW rallies to gain support for unionized Nissan plant

Article by Anita Panait, on June 6, 2012

The United Auto Workers (UAW) organizers held a worker rally during the weekend near Nissan’s Canton assembly site in Mississippi, as it seeks to gain support to unionize the plant. The UAW has called for only two representation elections at transplant auto assembly plants for the past 30 years. Both elections were at Nissan and both resulted in the rejection of union representation at Smyrna, Tenn.

Nissan’s workers at its Canton site have also ignored calls from UAW organizers to unionize. However, the situation at Canton is leading into another issue – regional wage discrepancy. While it is common for US industries to pay workers in one labor market more than employees having the same work in another labor market, the unionized Detroit 3 of the auto industry does the opposite.

The Detroit 3 and the UAW have an existing agreement that employs a two-tier wage structure, according to which experienced UAW autoworkers receive more payment than newly hired ones. However, non-unionized carmakers do not seem attracted to the idea of paying near-parity wages with the unionized Detroit 3.

These automakers now pay their assembly plant workers according to expectations of the local labor markets. This means that Nissan pays workers at its Smyrna site according to the expectations of the labor market in Tennessee and compensates employees at its Canton plant based on the expectations of the labor market in central Mississippi. [source: Autonews]

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