United Auto Workers representation rejected for second time at Nissan plant in Tennessee

Thursday, October 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) _ The United Auto Workers union says it won't give up in its quest to organize employees at Nissan's auto plant in Tennessee, despite a vote that delivered an overwhelming defeat to the effort.

Workers voted on Wednesday against joining the union, rejecting membership by a margin of 3,103 votes to 1,486 votes. Union representation had been voted down by a similar margin in 1989.

Nissan ``won round two,'' said Bob King, UAW national vice president and chief organizer. ``There will be round three and round four until there's justice for these workers.''

Nissan officials hope workers and the union will be able to move on.

``The contest has been a long and hard one, and it's been disruptive, but our employees have made their choice clear. We hope the UAW will respect their wishes,'' said Dan Gaudette, senior vice president of U.S. manufacturing for Nissan North America.

A decision to unionize would have given the United Auto Workers its first foothold at a U.S. auto plant fully owned by a foreign company.

King said the union may accuse the company of illegal intimidation activities that could result in the National Labor Relations Board ordering a new election. If the UAW does not challenge the results, union organizers will have to wait a year to try again.

Rhonda Bracy will be there when they do, even though she expects to be harassed for her support of the union when she goes back to work.

``I'll be a target, but I can handle it. I'm strong,'' said Bracy, her mascara streaked from crying.

The vote is a tough blow for the UAW, which has seen membership drop to about 700,000 from a peak of 1.5 million in 1978.

The plant, about 25 miles southeast of Nashville, makes about 400,000 Altima sedans, Xterra sport utility vehicles and Frontier trucks each year.

Last week, Nissan announced plans to move production of its Maxima line from Tokyo to Smyrna, which will help increase annual production to 500,000.