UAW calls on US State Department to help with Nissan plant

Nissan Anniversary

The United Auto Workers is calling for reinforcements in its ongoing battle with Nissan at the manufacturer’s Canton, MS factory, where the Altima, Armada, Titan and NV (and eventually, the next Murano) are built. The union has been attempting to organize the employees at the factory for several years, but it’s been largely unsuccessful.

Now, Reuters is reporting that the UAW is teaming with the IndustriALL Global Union and requesting intervention by the US State Department, with both groups accusing Nissan of using “threats, intimidation and fear” to keep the 5,600 workers at the facility from organizing. The two unions say this violates the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization dedicated to stimulating economic growth.

The UAW and IndustriALL are asking the State Department’s National Contact Point to serve as mediator with Nissan, to make sure things play out fairly. Speaking to Reuters, though, there’s at least one Michigan-based labor adviser that’s skeptical of the move.

“I’ve never heard of this happening before,” Arthur Schwartz told Reuters, referring to the State Department mediating a labor dispute. The move to invoke the OECD guidelines was also a surprise, with Schwartz saying he’d never heard of the organization having any “teeth.”

Nissan, for its part, seemed to deny the UAW’s allegations, say that it leaves union membership up to its employees. It didn’t stop there, though, accusing the UAW of violating the very guidelines it’s accusing the Nissan of breaking.

“It would be premature to comment on mediation given that the State Department has not yet evaluated the submission and the UAW already has compromised confidentiality provisions of the OECD guidelines,” spokesman Justin Saia told Reuters.