In a global economic system, manufacturing unions cannot play exactly the same role they played in the 20th century. The UAW of the 21st century has changed to meet the needs of a global economy. It is committed to collaborating with automakers like Nissan and building relationships on mutual respect, cooperation and trust.
It is the company’s, the workers’ and the union’s job to keep Nissan competitive in the global environment. Workers in Mississippi want to compete on a global scale, and they are pro-company AND pro-union. The adversarial, “us versus them,” mentality is over. Nissan workers envision establishing a union in Mississippi that values flexibility, innovation, teamwork and cooperation. There’s no room for rigid work rules or narrow job classifications because automakers face intense global competition.
“The 21st century UAW knows that the only true path to job security is by producing the best quality product, the safest product and the longest lasting product, at the best price.” – Bob King, UAW President
More on the 21st Century Union.
The new approach of the 21st Century UAW is working. When facing the greatest economic crisis in decades, the union helped turn around the domestic automakers. Recent UAW contracts with Ford, GM and Chrysler will create more than 20,000 jobs in those companies and another 180,000 related jobs in communities hard hit by the recession.
At Daimler Trucks (Freightliner), the union helped keep jobs in the U.S. that the company wanted to move to Mexico. Being part of a union, and having a voice, enables workers to help make their plants more productive and efficient. Union workers at GM are a great example – a worker in Ohio saved the company nearly $200,000 by suggesting a new windshield sealer operation. In Michigan, a team saved $1.2 million by adding plastic protection to a sensor.
When an Illinois Mitsubishi plant was producing cars at the end of their lifecycle, the UAW worked with Mitsubishi to secure production of the Outlander Sport among global competition. Workers kept their jobs in a five-year agreement, and Mitsubishi was able to shift gears quickly to enter the new market for small, fuel-efficient vehicles.
The UAW has learned a lot from how unions operate in other countries. In Japan, where Nissan is unionized, the auto union works collaboratively with Nissan management. This is a great model for the U.S.
Nissan has a record of anti-union activity.
Nissan and workers can do better together. But it takes two to have a partnership. On the workers’ behalf, the UAW asked Nissan to honor the Union’s Principles for Fair Union Elections that take away the fear factor and let workers freely decide whether to choose to have a union represent their interests. The UAW asked Nissan to respect workers and stop intimidating them from organizing.
The UAW has changed. Unfortunately, Nissan – with its history of anti-union attacks – has not.
Workers should be able to choose whether to have a union represent their interests.