Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
The United Auto Workers union is at it again. The UAW was once the fighter for workers’ rights and decent pay. That has become passé since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the U.S. Department of Labor being the watch dog on such Human Resources Management. Frankly, the need for the UAW is quite questionable. The membership rolls for the UAW have been growing in the “south” continuously. States that don’t require union labor, Right to Work states, have been growing in number over the past decade. Their number is up to 23 and growing. It makes political sense. While Governor, Mike Pence brought prominence to his political record of accomplishment when he converted Indiana into a right to work state. The Hoosier State was static, if not floundering, in its economic growth. The state now is growing and is on the right track. Hence the growth of Mike Pence from governor to Vice President of the United States.
Today, it is rare for the UAW to try and convert a worksite into a unionized operation. It is “Don Quixote” like at best. Auto unions in the Right to Work state of Mississippi is an oxymoron. Which is why I must voice concern in the recent UAW activity against the Nissan Plant in the fine city of Canton. That is like trying to get chickens to vote for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It would be a shame if the UAW’s propaganda, badgering and dirty tricks would influence the very happy workers of Mississippi. How do you convince a person to shake down his boss simply for the hustle of it and pay a part of their wages to the instigator (union dues)? The fortunate workers of Nissan in Mississippi are doing very well and are not going to mess that up.
Let’s look at what has happened since the ribbon cutting in 2003 of the Nissan Assembly Plant in Canton, Mississippi. Since the beginning Nissan provides an economic impact to the state via $2.9 billion dollars per year. It has invested $3.3 billion dollars into the plant. Local and state taxes amount to over $300 million annually. The workers receive $2.6 billion in disposable income which is recycled to Mississippi based businesses. There are more than 25,000 happy workers receiving paychecks from various sources related to Nissan activity in the Magnolia State.
And just who are these workers. Forty six percent of the managers are minorities. Sixty two percent of the general workforce are minorities. READ THAT AGAIN! Is there any other auto plant with more than 6,400 full time workers in this nation that can match that? Nissan was named one of DiversityInc’s (magazine) “Top 25 Noteworthy Companies for 2016.” What a fine example for America!
The huge facility is over 4.7 million square-feet sitting on 1,038 acres of Mississippi fine earth. Think about how many statewide workers are included in the daily operations of Nissan. Since the ribbon cutting over 3.2 million cars (Frontier, Murano, NV Cargo, NV Passenger, Titan, and Titan XD) are traveling on U.S. highways and through American communities. Since opening, Nissan – Mississippi has donated more than $13.6 million to local charitable organizations and its employees have contributed more than 8,000 volunteer hours to over 200 local organizations.
Nissan Canton has a safety record that is substantially above the average for the industry. In 2016, it spent more than $6 million on safety measures at the Canton plant, and they have 32 full – time health and safety employees (24 medical staff and eight safety employees). This must be a national model.
Also, workers at the Canton facility have safe, stable jobs, with some of the highest wages and strongest benefits in the state of Mississippi.
So, why does the UAW want to mess with Nissan? I think they need to go somewhere else. If something is not broken, it would take a fool to try and “fix it.” UAW has a very big problem. Its membership is falling and there is nothing they can do to turn it around. Raise all the hell you want to UAW but it is not going to help you. High technology and great Human Resources are facts well established. It may be time to find another hustle.
On August 3 and 4, about 4,000 of the Nissan workers will vote yes or no for union representation. I don’t think they are going to mess with their very good thing.
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected] Mr. JR Jones, Chair of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, is a happy resident of Jackson, MS.