Organizer Diana Tastad-Damer Shares Nissan Campaign Experience

From The Union Advocate, 8/28/17:  

Local organizer glimpses challenge of building worker power in South

Lured by generous tax incentives and low wages, foreign automakers have steadily increased their footprint in Southern states over the last two decades. Their employees earn less than union members at the Big Three domestic automakers, but attempts to organize workers in the South’s new, foreign-owned plants have almost always failed.

The most recent defeat came earlier this month, when workers at Nissan’s Canton, Miss., plant voted by nearly a 2-to-1 margin against forming a union.

The United Auto Workers devoted several years to organizing the Canton facility’s 3,500 workers (3,000 more contract workers at the plant were not eligible to join the union), and the UAW projected confidence as the Aug. 3-4 election approached. But in the weeks leading up to the vote, Nissan unleashed a “vicious campaign … of intense scare tactics, misinformation and intimidation,” UAW President Dennis Williams said.

Twin Cities-based union organizer Diana Tastad-Damer saw that campaign firsthand. An organizer on staff at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, Tastad-Damer spent 10 days on the ground in Mississippi, answering the UAW’s call for help reaching out to Nissan workers and drumming up support for the “Union Yes” campaign. When an organizer familiar with Walmart’s anti-union tactics sounds outraged, it gets our attention. Here’s our interview with Tastad-Damer, which has been edited for length and clarity.  Read entire interview here.