Nissan Workers Carry Advice of Union Leadership to Logical Conclusion

by John Reimann, North Star editorial board member on August 10, 2017

Nissan workers and allies showing support for the union.
Their message is undercut by the role of the union leadership.

For those wondering why Nissan workers voted down the union by nearly 2-1, or condemning them for it, they might consider this comment from Bob King, then UAW President, speaking to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce in 2011:

“We need to join together…. When we join together we can go down a path to true economic growth and prosperity…The 21stcentury UAW seeks and expects a partnership with the employers based on mutual respect trust & common goals….. embraces as our own the success of our employers…. I call on our friends in the business community… to reject this divisive ideological agenda that targets the unions of (public sector) workers; instead let us all work together as we did in the auto industry to find common solutions…. I want to challenge businesses to reexamine their instinctive negative reaction to the notion of unionization…. I sit on the AFL…. Jim and I believe in working with management… If we are going to succeed in America, we got to be honest about how the unions have changed and is business willing to change with the unions together.”

A few months later, that same leadership pushed through a concessionary contract – one of a long history of such contracts.

Think things have changed?

UAW President Dennis Williams (center) basking in the glow of Donald Trump as Trump announces preparing to cut emission standards for cars.

Just a few months ago, current UAW president, Dennis Williams, appeared alongside Trump when the latter

announced his preparing to cut emission standards for US cars. What message was Williams sending? Clearly, the same spoken message as that of King: “The industry’s success is our success. We’re on the same team.”

So Nissan workers simply took this message to its logical conclusion. If we’re all on the same team, then who needs a union?

NOTE: for those who are interested in this point of view, we recommend the pamphlet “What Happened to our Unions?” While it focuses mainly on the Carpenters Union, the points apply to the labor movement in general.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Cod August 10, 2017 at 9:36 am

Seems like at least some of the onus needs to be put on the Nissan bosses and their unscrupulous tactics of intimidation. There was an article about this in the New York Times the other day


Manuel August 10, 2017 at 1:24 pm

This “comment”, while accurate is really too minimalistic and rather jaded in its tenor. It comes off as shrill about union bosses, when what is needed is analysis, especially for socialists and union activists in the South. That NYT reported more of the underlying, and ongoing, tactics of major corporations like the automakers to undermine union organizing in the South, seems, well, embarassing. Referring to an article about the Carpenter’s Union? That just seems bureaucratic. I know the Northstar editorial board is capable of MUCH better.


John Reimann September 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

“minimalistic and rather jaded”.
“the onus needs to be put on the Nissan bosses and their unscrupulous tactics of intimidation.”

What, you think the bosses never used the tactics they used at Nissan before? Complaining about what the bosses did to stop the union is like farmer complaining about the wolf who ate his sheep while his guard dogs slept. Who’s really at fault there?

When you have a union leadership (and it’s not only the UAW, not by a long shot) that preaches day in and day out the unity of interests of the bosses and the workers, a union leadership that has practically given away the store and done everything it can to suppress any fighting spirit, then it’s hard to be surprised when the workers are subject to the bosses’ propaganda.


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