Some members of Mississippi's clergy are now calling on Nissan's Plant in Canton to allow employees the opportunity to vote for unionization, but many factory workers say they don't want a union.
A group of one-hundred pastors and ministers from across the Jackson-Metro area gathered outside the Canton-based factory yesterday, to deliver a letter asking the automaker to hold the election to organize a union. Reverend Horace McMillon is with Open Door Mennonite Church in Jackson.
"Workers have a right to decide for themselves without fear, without intimidation, without threats, without retaliation to decide whether they want representation or not," says McMillon. "They have that right, and Nissan has done everything that they could for before even the word union was ever whispered to deny the workers the right to decide."
Travis Parks of Carthage is a pro-union Nissan employee who works over-night at the plant. He says management has consistently treated staff unfairly.
""There is nothing consistent inside the plant; things are different for everybody," Parks says. “When you walk in there it depends on who you are. Sometimes it depends on color. Sometimes it depends on gender. It depends on whether you're buddies with that manager outside that plant. You're treated differently depending on who you are. If you're pro-union you're treated differently. There's no consistency across the board with Nissan."
Nissan, however, says Parks is a minority voice at the plant. They say most employees have no desire to unionize. Helelaine Osborn of Brandon has been working on the wheel-align section of the plant for more than eleven years. She doesn't understand where the pro-union sentiment is coming from.
"From my prospective, and the people that I've talked to in the area that I work at, we all get along; It's sort of like a family," says Osborn. "I don't understand where that concept that they have of 'we need a union.' I've always felt like I could always go to anybody in management and talk to them if I had a problem."
According to the National Labor Relations Board, at least 30 percent of workers have to sign a petition in favor of unionization in order for a vote to take place.