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UAW grows weaker with Nissan expansion
by Sid Salter
Aug 02, 2013 | 200 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The announcement this week that the Nissan auto plant in Canton would be expanding their operations by building a new supplier park that will create 800 new jobs — 400 in the supplier park and 400 new jobs hired since June 1 at the Nissan plant – should be another blow to the ongoing United Auto Workers union push there.

That’s on top of the current 5,200 jobs the Nissan plant has created.

The more than 1 million sq. ft. supplier park represents a Nissan investment of more than $50 million and is Nissan’s first major supplier park located in North America. The project is the result of a cooperative effort between Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Legislature, the Madison County Economic Development Authority and Nissan.

“For a decade, Nissan has been a loyal corporate partner and has created thousands of jobs for Mississippians,” Bryant said. “The addition of the new supplier park will bring more manufacturing-related jobs to Mississippi and serves to strengthen our growing automotive sector.”

When last we heard from the UAW back in May, they brought in a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization called Good Jobs First to accuse Nissan of not making good on their employment promises based on the specifics of the package of tax breaks and other economic incentives that company was granted back in 2000 and in subsequent additions to the incentives.

The Mississippi Development Authority and State Auditor Stacey Pickering forcefully disputed those claims and pointed to the fact that Nissan has pumped $2 billion of their own money into the Canton operation in addition to the $1.33 billion incentive package.

Hearing the UAW and their political water bearers talk about the impact of tax breaks and economic incentives for Nissan on state government is amusing at best. On July 18, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection — the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

The fortunes of Detroit and the UAW were intertwined. As the union poured millions upon millions of dollars in campaign contributions into Democratic Party super PACs in the 2012 elections, it became clear that Detroit’s fiscal woes were literally beyond reasonable political help. But the UAW’s role in that collapse is undeniable.

As Forbes magazine reported in April, in the past three decades nearly every job lost at U.S. car factories have vanished from unionized companies. Meanwhile, job gains have come almost exclusively from non-union companies.

"At its peak in 1979, the UAW boasted a membership of 1.5 million. Today, by its own admission it boasts a mere 390,000, " the magazine reported. "In the last 12 years, the Detroit-based auto companies have shed 200,000 jobs -- three-fifths of its hourly workforce. Meanwhile, foreign-owned car companies have created some 20,000 new jobs in mostly southern factories."

The success or failure of the UAW's forays into organizing plants like Nissan in Canton will determine in great measure whether "Detroit South" — Nissan and Toyota in Mississippi, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda in Alabama, Kia in Georgia, BMW in South Carolina, and Nissan and Volkswagen in Tennessee — will suffer the same economic fate as the American automakers in Detroit.

Nissan is stable and growing in Mississippi without UAW intervention. They provide good jobs and they spin-off good supplier jobs. Mississippi benefits and will continue to do so — unless the UAW gets their hooks into the labor force there.

(Daily Corinthian and syndicated columnist Sid Salter can be contacted at 601-507-8004 or
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