Anyone surprised by the outcome of last week’s union election at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, hasn’t been paying attention.
To get a sense of how ugly the tenor of the Nissan union vote got, one need only have tuned to WYAB talk radio in central Mississippi, where one caller warned that pro-union Nissan workers would “go right back to” “picking cotton and plowing fields or digging ditches.” Which prompted an enthusiastic “You got that right!” from in-studio.
For months, Nissan workers endured these kinds of racist, ruthless, and often illegal scare tactics. But the reality is, these aren’t isolated or anomalous incidents. We share in the bitter disappointment of the Nissan workers who fought for the freedom to form a union and negotiate a fair return on their work. Nissan’s campaign laid bare, for the pundits and everyone else to see, the abuse and intimidation that workers face every day in communities nationwide.
Now, before you chalk this up as just another blow for a weakened labor movement, or write off organizing efforts in the south, ask yourself this question: If your boss forced anti-union propaganda on you, if you were told you could be fired for siding with the union, and if the company were allowed to get away with this kind of harassment without repercussions, what would you do? The honest answer is, you’d probably vote no. And who would blame you?
Union-busting like this is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The game is rigged in any number of ways – with wealthy corporations employing robber-baron tactics we thought were relegated to the dustbin of history, to rake in more profits while screwing millions of hardworking Americans out of the freedom to earn a decent living that can support a family.