Why I Proudly Support Nissan Workers’ Fight To Unionize by Bernie Sanders
A few months before the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
This week, thousands of courageous workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, are doing just that. They are voting for the right to join a union, the right to make a living wage and the right to job security and pensions. And they are doing so by connecting workers’ rights with civil rights, as the plant’s workforce is over 80% African American.
But Nissan, like other large corporations, is doing everything it can to stop these workers from forming a union. In the lead up to the vote, Nissan management has been deluging employees with anti-union literature and is threatening to close the plant if a majority of its workers vote to establish a union.
Supervisors have called workers off assembly lines for one-on-one interrogations. Anti-union videos are being run on a constant loop in employee break rooms. Groups of workers have been called into “roundtable” meetings to hear management disparage the United Auto Workers (UAW). Nissan has been saturating local TV and radio with anti-union propaganda.
This could go down as one of the most vicious, and illegal, anti-union crusades in decades. Workers should never have to endure this type of threatening campaign or walk through a minefield just to vote for a union.
The truth is Nissan is an all-too-familiar story of how greedy corporations divide and conquer working people.
Bernie Speaking during the March On Mississippi earlier this year: