July 17, 2017 / 9:24 PM / 9 days ago

UAW representation vote set at Nissan plant in Mississippi

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A Nissan logo is seen at a car dealership in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico May 30, 2017. Picture taken May 30, 2017.Jose Luis Gonzalez

DETROIT (Reuters) - Workers at a Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) plant in Mississippi will vote early next month on whether to be represented by a union, according to an agreement announced on Monday by the Japanese automaker and the United Auto Workers as the union once again seeks a major foothold after decades of failed attempts.

The vote, which is subject to approval by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), would take place on Aug. 3 and 4 at Nissan's Canton, Mississippi, plant, involving at least 4,000 production and skilled trade workers.

In a release announcing the agreement, the UAW said that in the days after the union filed a July 11 petition with the NLRB, "Nissan employees have reported widespread pressure by company supervisors in one-on-one meetings and in videos broadcast inside the Canton plant."

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said in the statement that Nissan is "running one of the most aggressive anti-worker campaigns that we’ve seen in modern U.S. history."

Nissan said in its own statement that it does not believe UAW representation is "is in the best interest" of the plant and its workers.

"Our success has been built upon the direct relationship we have with employees," said Rodney Francis, human resources director at Nissan's Canton plant. "Given the UAW’s history of strikes, layoffs and plant closures, it is clear that their presence could be harmful."

Francis added that Nissan technicians "enjoy pay and benefits that are among the best in Mississippi."

The UAW's representation is largely focused in northern U.S. states. The last major vote on union representation in the South was at Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2014.

That vote failed, but the union was able to get a toehold in the plant in late 2015 when around 165 skilled trades workers voted to become the first members of UAW Local 42.

But that toehold is tenuous, as the German automaker has refused to acknowledge the result, arguing against allowing a small group within the plant to have union representation and saying that all 1,500 hourly workers should be treated as one unit.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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