The UAW’s Surprising New Supporter

Alex Wolff

Common—the Chicago-born rapper and actor—is putting on a free concert for Jackson, Miss. residents this Friday night as a gesture of his support for the United Auto Workers' (UAW) effort to unionize at the nearby Nissan plant in Canton. He's the latest famous face to come out in support of workers' rights in the area. Actor Danny Glover has also made multiple visits to connect with the region's pro-union constituents and is expected to attend the performance. The UAW is hoping to bounce back from February's devastating defeat in Chattanooga, Tenn., in which Volkswagen workers narrowly voted against unionization (though the organization is appealing that result on grounds that outside groups unfairly influenced the election). The Clarion-Ledger reports: Pro-union Nissan workers and their colleagues contend Nissan Canton relies too heavily on temporary workers that don’t receive the same pay and benefits as full-time workers. They also say the automaker holds on-site meetings in which they intimate the plant will close if it’s organized. Nissan has repeatedly denied the claims and says it has an open-door policy with the plant’s 5,600 employees that doesn’t require the presence of the UAW. There has never been a union vote at the 11-year-old plant, which builds eight Nissan brands, including its best-seller, the Altima sedan. A union vote at a Madison County Nissan supplier failed in 2008. The UAW hopes Common's endorsement will help to educate and inform a large, younger audience.

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Alex Wolff is a Spring 2014 editorial intern.
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