By on June 6, 2012

According to Automotive News [sub] and other media reports, the UAW is trying again to unionize Nissan’s Canton, Miss,, plant. A rally was held over the weekend. It is hard to believe that the UAW is serious, given the fact that it had tried two times, and failed two times.

It is amazing that anyone would be trying to organize in the Deep South. According to Gulf Live, “the UAW had representation in place at one Southern auto plant.” That was Saturn’s Spring Hill plant, and it is closed. If it is opened again, the UAW can proudly announce that it is welcome in the South.

Someone else does not think the UAW is serious. The National Labor Relations Board told the Associated Press that no petition has been filed seeking a union vote in Canton.

On the other hand, now is a good time to try. Workers at all Japanese transplant plants are working around the clock to meet the increased demand. Handing out some bonuses probably would destroy any chances of union success.

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23 Comments on “UAW Hopes For Breakthrough At Nissan, Again...”

  • avatar

    Teehee. That Mississippi logo looks like testicles.

  • avatar

    The American labor movement made a couple of bad strategic moves. The first was not recognizing that with the exception of protecting you from getting fired, private sector labor unions had, for the most part, outlived their utility and were starting to be counterproductive, literally. Most of the other things like wages and benefits had risen for most workers so most employees don’t see themselves as needing a union. Instead of reinventing themselves and accepting the new reality of reduced membership (in part brought about by the increased productivity due to automation), the labor movement retained its basic strategy and employed traditional tactics like organizing other industries. The labor movement looked to the service sector (my ex and daughter are Blue Cross employees and UAW members) and other industries to try to shore up membership numbers.

    The other strategic error can be seen in yesterday’s election results in Wisconsin and other places where public employees are taking a drubbing at the ballot box. Organized labor decided to go with AFSCME and SIEU and other public employees. A public employee union is a completely different animal than a private sector union.

    If I don’t like the work that the UAW does, I can buy a car from a non-union competitor. If I don’t like the work that the AFSCME members at city hall do, I can’t go to a competitor. Add the inherently corrupt practice of unions making political contributions to politicians, and the larger issue of the financial burden of public employee pensions, and it’s easy to see why yesterday’s elections turned out the way they did.

    You may or may not like unions but you’ve been an employee and you can empathize at least a little with private sector union members, but when public employees are unionized, they put you and me on management’s side of the table and we can’t be sympathetic to them.

    The blowback against public employee unions is going to spill over against private sector unions. It already has. In California, in one city a ballot proposal passed that would prohibit mandating paying union scale wages for public works, one of those little corrupt practices politicians have done for unions.

    • 0 avatar

      Some have noted in an industry where there is legitimate danger to employees, such as manufacturing, mining or public safety, OSHA isn’t enough to protect employees and unions are necessary. While this argument is certainly open for debate, there is zero argument in office workers needing to be in any sort of union other than organized extortion (which I believe could be construed as racketeering and yet conveniently isn’t). Wisconsin has showed us the public is waking up to the fact we can no longer afford unions in an ever globalized economy. I think Ronnie is correct, even if you have never worked in a unionized industry, you could *maybe* sympathize with the plight of those in such industries. But how can you sympathize with someone who will get better benefits, pension, and pay than you ever could doing the same type of job for a gov’t agency (and potentially producing lackluster results) vs your private sector position simply due to a legal criminal enterprise and *you* as a taxpayer foot the bill.

      • 0 avatar

        What, pray tell, does beating down on teachers have to do with a globalized economy? Except making our kids less competitive in a global workforce, that is…

      • 0 avatar

        I actually didn’t have teaching in mind here, but since you asked… why should teachers or anyone else be paid well and given great benefits to turn out a crappy product? Sure education isn’t as simple as building a widget, and there is much more at play than incompetent teaching staff (or incompetent parenting), but pouring more public money into a loss making operation is not the answer, just ask… GM.

      • 0 avatar

        “What, pray tell, does beating down on teachers have to do with a globalized economy? Except making our kids less competitive in a global workforce, that is…”

        One thing that’s making our kids less competitive is a dumbed down and politicized educational system that does the bidding of teachers’ unions, not parents. Those teachers are, in many ways, responsible for a less competitive product. You want us to reward failure and give public school teachers and administrators more money.

        Parents who don’t get involved have a role as do stupid fads from Ed Schools, like whole words vs phonics and getting rid of having to memorize multiplication tables or learn how to diagram a sentence.

        Not only area a lot of high school graduates badly educated, they are virtually unteachable because they’ve never heard a word of constructive criticism in their lives. You might say the same about a lot of teachers.

    • 0 avatar

      All unions are pretty much in an existential struggle. Things have changed in America since the Industrial Revolution where there was a dire need for unions and organized labor.

      But in today’s America OSHA and the EEOC pretty much call the shots that unions used to represent. Any union, public sector or private sector, would be hard-pressed to explain to potential members what that union can bring to the table for them, other than taking a chunk of their pay check.

      Most auto workers can see for themselves where the UAW bullying of their employers has resulted in the collectively-bargaining away of jobs for many of their members. It killed two of their employers.

      And look at what’s happening with GM today. GM is offering a lump-sum settlement instead of a lifetime of retirement checks and benefits to lower the pension obligations won by the UAW.

      Who in their right mind would take such a deal when you can get lifetime retirement checks and benefits that are provided by GM?

      The American labor movement had its day and age. I really don’t see a comeback IF workers have a choice about organizing versus keeping more of their own money by not having to pay union dues every payday.

      • 0 avatar

        I could see the temptation of a buyout.

        I think the question you have to ask yourself if put in such a buyout situation, is will my employer be around long enough to pay these generous benefits?

        If your a GM employee and say you had a nice chunk of stock you purchased through a discount program or 401k, your investment was probably trashed in the bankruptcy like all other stockholders. So do you take the hundred grand buyout, retire and wisely invest it, or take the chance on the ‘Cadillac’ health benefits and pension which might go up in smoke in five or ten years?

      • 0 avatar

        You’re absolutely correct in that the choice affects each individual in a different way and that the choice is theirs to make.

        But what is to keep a person from keeping their current arrangement and then doing something else besides collecting? There’s nothing that says that annuitants and pensioners have to remain unemployed.

        And for the younger folks who choose the lump-sum to use as they see fit, will that amount they collect up-front last for the remainder of their years? I doubt it.

        If they invest that lump-sum in starting their own business, they then have the same chance of succeeding or failing in business as anyone else does. That’s the free-enterprise way.

        If they succeed, great! If they fail, will the government come to their rescue and bail them out?

        Weighing those factors, I bet most would choose to keep their current arrangement. Taking the lump-sum unleashes variables over which no one has control. And the economic future in America is as clear as mud.

  • avatar

    According to GM’s media site:

    “[Spring Hill Manufacturing] will begin producing the hot-selling [sic] Chevrolet Equinox during the second half of 2012.”

    It also lists “UAW Local 1853” as its union.

    Soooo…the UAW IS welcome in the South…??

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I wouldn’t call it ‘welcome’, so much as “we’ll strike if you try and sneak in a nonunion plant”..

    • 0 avatar

      When Saturn opened that plant a huge amount of UAW workers moved down to Tennessee to start work. Saturn did not hire a Tennesseean until it had been open for several years. The UAW welcome their own. The transplants hired from the home state until they couldn’t fill the positions.

      • 0 avatar

        Never-the-less, the Saturn plant brought a lot of high-paying jobs to TN. For the reopening of the assembly side of the plant a lot of these jobs will be there again … as well as “regionally competitive” tier-two jobs hired from the home state perhaps … just like the transplants.

  • avatar

    I’ve been throwing my resume out a bit, and I’ve noticed with some office jobs, union members get priority over me. It literally says it in the description.

    I can’t believe it. F**king union goons.

  • avatar

    God save Mississippi from the people who bailed Martin Luther King out of Birmingham jail.

    • 0 avatar

      The logical question these workers need to ask is what can the UAW do for them. At this point, the answer to that one is, “Lower our take-home pay by charging us union dues.” That’s not a compelling reason to vote in the union.

      What happened almost 50 years ago isn’t relevant as to why Nissan workers should vote to join the UAW today, especially since most of them were probably born in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • avatar

    They need to wait until card check makes voting illegal. They will never win an anonymous vote.

    • 0 avatar

      You nailed it.

      There is a reason organized labor had to bet their future on taking away a workers ability to cast a private ballot.

      But regardless of card check, I’m afraid the UAW’s future is not very promising.

    • 0 avatar

      They couldn’t pass card check in 09/10 when Dems controlled POTUS, House, and Senate.

      Then the UAW bought into tier 2, which effectively made their “new” employees lower paid than a lot of the transplant workers.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I have avoided purchasing Nissan at various times after looking at the reliability ratings. I can only imagine how much worse they’ll get when the UAW gets involved.

    Don’t do it, Nissan workers.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I grew up in the Midwest. UAW wages put a lot kids through college and let families live a middle class lifestyle. Yes, the UAW should have recognized that American auto makers were getting beat like a drum and changed some things. I squarely put the downfall of the US auto industry on the clueless suits running said companies who were NOT UAW members. I also support trade unions and the living wage. Trade union members are trained to do a job right via classes and hours of on-site work. Kinda nice to know your wiring and gas lines were done correctly. Then again, if I was a latte sipping coastal hipster; I’d say simians could fix or build anything

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up in the Midwest, too. I often heard UAW and other industrial union members bragging about how much they get paid and how little they have to work for it. Now I hear the same guys griping about how all the jobs went away. No kidding?

      It usually goes something like this:
      “Yeah, I had a good thing going down at the mill. I was making eighty grand a year with a GED, came in late, left early, and spent most of the time I was there reading a magazine. Then the suits closed the plant and put me out of a job, those greedy SOBs!”

      As for quality of work, you may be on to something. After all, the non-union workers at US Honda, Subaru, and Toyota plants produce a notoriously low-quality product; and it shows in their low resale, poor reliability ratings, and the huge incentives required to sell the cars.

      No, wait, that’s the UAW-built products they compete with. I’m not going to go so far as to say that union workers can’t build a car well; but the available evidence indicates that non-union workers absolutely can.

  • avatar

    Without doubt part of the blame lies with the nameless suits. It’s the part where they didn’t stand up to the unions and say “We don’t give a damn what’s in the friggin’ ten thousand pound bargaining agreement … we must cut cost, increase quality, increase flexibility, and increase R&D and WE MUST DO IT NOW”

    The non-working relationship between the two sides is the root of the problem. Each side expected, or rather hoped, that the other side would solve the competitive problem. Both sides were too weak or too self-indulgent to “demand” that a mutual solution be found.

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