The UAW wants to organize a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, and has asked the State Department to mediate its discussions with the automaker, since two previous attempts at organizing southern Nissan plants have failed.
Here’s some background: The State Department would be involved in the meeting because the UAW and its European ally IndustriAll have filed a request for mediation from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the State Department is the OECD’s point of contact in the U.S. The UAW teamed up with IndustriAll to complain to the OECD about alleged rights abuses at Nissan. The union double-team alleges that Nissan’s intimidation of their pro-union employees is the reason behind UAW’s failures to organize different Nissan plants.
Eight Nissan employees have claimed that Nissan plays anti-union videos and threatens the jobs of anyone who speaks out for union representation. The first allegation does not constitute a rights abuse since it is protected by free speech, but the second allegation is a big problem for Nissan. Fortunately for Nissan, they have been vindicated after the NLRB found no merit to claims of unfair labor practices.
The UAW has gone to heroic (and unethical) lengths to unionize in the South. They have misled employees by claiming that signing cards would only lead to employees receiving more information about union membership instead of disclosing the fact that employees were effectively voting for union representation. Union organizers also promised, without any basis, that employees would receive bonuses if the UAW won the election. Worst of all, one employee alleged that union organizers bribed employees to sign their cards: “I know somebody that got nine tickets to go to Lake Winnie to go sign a card.”
The UAW has also used what is called a “corporate campaign” to coerce Nissan. Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, called a corporate campaign a “death of a thousand cuts.” A corporate campaign usually involves a union teaming up with progressive groups, public figures, and even international allies to pressure and intimidate companies into accepting the union’s representation of their employees. CEI’s Trey Kovacs and and former CEI Labor Policy Counsel Vincent Vernuccio note,
This could mean that a union might form an alliance with environmental groups to file a complaint accusing a company of polluting the environment. It could link up with civil rights groups to condemn an employer for racial or gender discrimination and human rights abuses. It could also organize the public appearance of celebrities and religious leaders who would voice their outrage over perceived wrongs done to the company’s employees.
The UAW’s two previous unionization attempts failed because workers voted down UAW representation in fair and democratic elections. Now, by bringing in the State Department on their behalf, the UAW is going to even more excessive lengths to pressure Nissan’s executives to bypass an employee vote by forcing union representation on their workers through a poorly named “neutrality agreement.” This type of agreement restricts the company from interfering with the union’s organizing effort of its employees, and almost always brings a “card check” election into play.
Of all the undemocratic practices employed by the UAW, a card check election is one of the worst: employees are pressured to sign cards in favor of unionization out in public with union officials harassing those who refuse. (Talk about a hostile work environment.) If 50 percent plus one worker signs these cards under such arm-twisting conditions, the entire company is unionized. Even if 49 percent of employees voted against unionization, all those employees have to accept union representation. Yes, this happens in America.
Considering UAW’s desperation due to their historically low numbers and considering that they have utterly failed to organize Nissan through fair, democratic means, a neutrality agreement is sure to be pushed in the meeting between Nissan and the UAW’s Big Brother, the State Department. Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran hit the nail on the head when he said, “…the United States Department of State should concentrate on enhancing U.S. security interests and promoting peace around the world rather than interfering in domestic labor activities. Mississippians can decide for themselves how they want to handle these issues.” Nissan knows the UAW’s strong-arm tactics all too well and should avoid this mediation at all costs so the UAW can’t enlist their big government allies to intimidate them even further.