TN Student Solidarity Helps Nissan Worker Win His Job Back


ABOVE: MTSU students with Tennessee Student Justice Alliance and Garrett Stark with the Central Labor Council delivering letter to Nissan Headquarters in Franklin TN. 

Students from the Tennessee Student Justice Alliance delivered a letter Thursday April 23, 2014  to Nissan’s headquarters in Franklin, TN. The letter demanded the reinstatement of Calvin Moore, a Mississippi Nissan worker who was unjustly terminated for union activity, as well as back pay for Chip Wells, another worker actively organizing. These students efforts were a part of a coalition called the Concerned Students For a Better Nissan. This coalition is made up of college students and young activists within the South that have been organizing in solidarity with Nissan workers both at Smyrna, TN and Canton, MS, who want a fair union election. Thursday's action wasn't isolated. Students in Canton Mississippi delivered a similar letter to the plant, while students in Miami, FL delivered a letter to a Nissan dealership. These student-worker solidarity tactics are already proving effective. As a result of this organizing, within two days Calvin Moore, won his job back!

Calvin Moore has been an eleven year employee of Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant and was one of the most outspoken supporters of organizing a union at Nissan.  Moore and his coworkers are trying to organize with the United Auto Workers union (UAW), so they can have a voice in how Nissan treats its injured workers and in Nissan’s reliance on the thousands of low wage temporary workers the company has hired. Nissan management has responded to their efforts with anti-union videos, round-table meetings, and one-on-one sessions with supervisors that include threats to close the plant and vicious remarks about the UAW.  Moore and his coworkers have formed a fair election committee and are asking Nissan to grant them a fair union election, free of threats and intimidation.


ABOVE PHOTO: Actor Danny Glover with Nissan Worker Calvin Moore 

Moore regularly wore union t-shirts inside the plant and refused to answer questions about his union support when a supervisor tried to interrogate him.  Moore was terminated on March 5, 2014, for “insubordination.” Later, Nissan changed the reason for his termination, citing a warning he received four years ago.  Moore requested documentation justifying the reasons for termination, but Nissan refused. With no legitimate reason for his termination, Moore believes he was terminated for his open support for the union.

Chip Wells, a veteran and also a Canton Mississippi autoworker, also spoke publicly of the need for a fair union election at Nissan. He then was the target of four disciplinary actions by management, none of them legitimate. But Nissan hasn't broken his spirit, and he has bravely continued to organize. More recently, Chip needed to take a short medical leave. Nissan eventually reinstated him, but without paying his back pay.  Federal NLRB labor charges are still pending, but that process of enforcing labor law can be slow, and Chip has bills to pay now for his two daughters and family.


ABOVE: Chip Wells, Nissan autoworker seeking back pay 

 “Young people define the struggle for a fair election as the new civil rights movement.  We say to Nissan that our generation will not stand for a company that attacks those who speak up for fairness.  We see Calvin’s reinstatement as a victory, but we will keep fighting until there is justice at Nissan,” said Laura Cooper, Vice President of the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance (MSJA) and Sophomore at Tougaloo College.  The MSJA at Tougaloo College was the first student group to stand up for Nissan workers and has helped build a student movement in support of a fair election at Nissan.  Under the umbrella of CSBN, MSJA is joined by organizations on dozens of campuses in nine states and in Brazil and South Africa.

“We are pleased that Nissan corrected the unjust termination of Calvin Moore and sincerely hope this is an indication of a change in course, of a willingness to restore the civil rights of all Nissan workers in the U.S. by allowing workers to make a free choice about representation in an environment free of threats and intimidation,” said Kimar Cain, President of the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance and Senior at Tougaloo College.

Moore will also receive full back-pay for his time away from work. “I am truly humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from Danny Glover, Common, students, workers and unions in Brazil, MAFFAN, and the NAACP.  I am excited to get back to what I do best, building Nissan cars.  I know now, more than ever, that with so many people around the world behind us, Nissan workers will achieve a fair union election,” said Moore.

 Please take a minute to sign the petition in support of students’ campaign in support of Nissan workers’ struggle for a fair union election

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