Danny Glover, Bernie Sanders and NAACP president Cornell Brooks participated yesterday in a march with Nissan factory workers trying to unionize in Canton, Mississippi. It is worth watching the film below, and Brooks is particularly eloquent about why workplace rights are civil rights.
It is also worth reading this interview with Hollywood star, Danny Glover, which is illuminating about how the fight in Mississippi is about the same issues of precarious employment so familiar to us in the UK.
all the employees were initially full-time employees. So the workers have been there 13 and 14 years. And they had benefits, good wages and a relationship with the company. But then the plant resorted to temporary workers who do the same jobs as those workers who are permanent and have been there some time. Now the workforce is about 40 percent temporary workers. Some temporary workers are there for three and four years but don’t have a sense of permanency and make significantly less that the permanent workers. These are the kinds of things that you work out within the union [through] collective bargaining.
However Glover makes the point that Nissan has 45 plants around the world, and the only ones that are non-unionized are in America: in Canton, Mississippi, and in Decherd and Smyrna, Tennessee. He argues that the reason for this is simple: “it is a continuation of the system [of] Jim Crow, which was born out of slavery. Basically, it’s an issue of civil rights—worker rights are civil rights. The South has always been anti-union”