Nissan Technicians in Tennessee Vote Against Unionization

Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan Employees Reject Bid to Join Machinists Union
Vehicles on the production line at the Nissan manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn.
Vehicles on the production line during final inspections at the Nissan Motor Co. manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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Nissan North America Inc. technicians in Tennessee voted against unionization on March 16, the latest defeat for organizing efforts at foreign automakers in the U.S. South.

The workers, at the automaker’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn., voted 9 for and 62 against joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, known as the Machinists union, National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado said in an email.

In an emailed statement, Nissan said workers “elected to maintain their direct relationship with the company. Nissan respects this decision, and we remain focused on working with employees to drive our future forward together.”

The union petitioned in 2021 to represent the group of around 86 tool and die technicians at the factory. The company successfully persuaded a regional NLRB director that any union election should instead include the thousands more employees at the plant, but a panel of labor board members in Washington D.C. overturned that decision last month, paving the way for March 16’s election.


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“The delayed decision from the National Labor Relations Board had a chilling effect on this campaign,” the union said in an emailed statement. “The IAM will continue to support these workers so we will be prepared for them to join our union when the time is right again.”

Organized labor has struggled to establish footholds at foreign automakers’ U.S. plants. Workers at a Mississippi Nissan plant voted against joining the United Auto Workers in 2017. The NLRB’s general counsel issued a complaint that year accusing the company of making anti-union threats, including threatening to shut the plant down if workers unionized. Nissan denied wrongdoing in that case, which was settled in 2018.

The past year and a half have seen a wave of first-time unionization wins at prominent U.S. firms, including Inc., Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., and hundreds of Starbucks Corp. cafes.

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