By Bernie Woodall
CANTON, Miss., June 28 Japanese car maker Nissan
Motor Co said it will add workers and start production
of its Sentra compact sedan at its Canton plant in Mississippi.
Nissan will add 1,000 jobs to the plant where the Sentra
production will begin in December, Mississippi Governor Phil
Bryant said at an event held at the Canton plant on Thursday.
Total employment at the Canton plant will rise to 4,500 from
the existing 3,900 by December, Nissan officials said. The move
comes at a time when the United Auto Workers (UAW) is making
efforts to organize the plant's workers.
The UAW, along with a Mississippi congressman and the local
head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP), early this month announced an effort to organize
the Canton Nissan workers.
The UAW has said that Nissan held "captive" meetings with
its workers in Canton as a way to convince them not to support
any union-organizing drive, a charge that Nissan has denied.
THE SENTRA DRIVE
The Canton plant near the Mississippi state capital of
Jackson is also the production site of Nissan's best-selling
Altima mid-sized sedan.
The Sentra for the North American market is now made at the
Nissan plant in Aguascalientes in Mexico. Production of the
Sentra will continue at Aguascalientes, Nissan officials said.
Sentra sales fell 18 percent in the United States through
May this year to 46,773, while Altima sales have risen 21
percent to 135,289. Overall, Nissan sales, including its luxury
Infiniti brand, rose 12 percent through May, less than the auto
industry's gain of 13 percent.
Nissan is aggressively adding to its production of vehicles
at the Canton plant, its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee and in
Mexico to boost the No. 2 Japanese automaker's profile in the
competitive U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets.
In the United States, Nissan is the sixth-largest automaker
and the third-biggest import brand after Japanese automakers
Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd.