Saturday, March 04, 2017

Bernie Sanders goes to the mat for Nissan autoworkers

He's doing the jobs the Democratic Party won't do.

Senator Bernie Sanders is leading a protest Saturday against what activists are calling civil rights violations by Nissan.

Sanders will join actor Danny Glover, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, politicians and activists at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi.

The activists cite "a pattern of civil rights abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African-American workforce in Mississippi," according to a statement from the march's organizers.

The automaker's efforts to stifle its workers range from the typical to the outrageous.

One of Nissan's first Canton employees, Chip Wells, told Sanders the harassment he received in response to taking his pro-union views public was so extreme — he described being targeted for unreasonable discipline — the stress caused him to take medical leave. When his physician cleared him, though, Nissan wouldn't let him return, he said. Wells' story is just one of many that some employees say illustrates a culture of distrust at Nissan, where supporters of unionizing efforts say workers have little voice and little of their superiors' respect.

Wells ultimately filed an unfair labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and Nissan settled in 2014.

More on today's protest rally.  The grievances have gone across the pond.

Earlier last year, members of the French Parliament questioned Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan and CEO of France-based Renault, which partners with Nissan, about the conditions at the Canton plant. The French government owns 19.7 percent of stockholder voting shares in Renault, which controls more than 40 percent of Nissan's voting shares.

In an effort to take its concerns international, UAW filed a complaint in December with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in three overseas countries.

"Everything has been done to prevent the formation of a union. Even efforts by the OECD and all other undertakings have not made a difference," said French politician Jean-Luc Laurent, according to a translated video of the February 2016 hearing. "So you may say that this may not be of concern because it is Nissan, not Renault, and it's not in France. However, France is attached to a social model, to workers rights because it is a component to industrial success."

Be sure and read this article about the Kelly Service temps hired by Nissan at lower-than-Nissan wages, who were promised full-time jobs after six months, some of whom have been there three years without having been converted.  It's Mississippi, after all, where 80% of the workers are African American and are easily intimidated by that "be thankful you have a job " crap.

This effort checks a lot of boxes for Bernie's Revolutionary mission: coming to the aid of black working class Americans getting beaten up by a foul multi-national corporation.

While Alex Acosta is no Andy Puzder, and with Trump and the GOP Congress' efforts to stamp out unions via a national "right to work" (sic) law the goal, let's see how long it takes for a few weak-kneed Democrats who want labor's support in 2018 to get on this bandwagon.

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