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UPDATE: Union vote at Nissan plant set for Aug. 3-4

Workers at Nissan Motor Co.’s Mississippi plant will decide on Aug. 3 and 4 whether the United Auto Workers will represent them.

The company and the UAW said Monday that they agree on the dates, subject to National Labor Relations Board approval.

Workers favoring the union say collective bargaining would improve pay and working conditions. Nissan management opposes the UAW, saying it would hurt the Canton plant’s economic competitiveness.

The union says about 4,000 production and maintenance workers should be eligible to vote.

The UAW has worked for years building support in Canton. Facing a political climate hostile to organized labor, supporters link unionization to civil rights among the plant’s majority African-American workforce. The UAW has never won a union vote at any of the South’s foreign-owned auto assembly plants.

“While it is ultimately up to our employees who will represent them, we do not believe that UAW representation is in the best interest of Nissan Canton and its workers,” Nissan spokesman Paul Bajaj said.

The pro-union campaign has sought to link support for the union with civil rights for African-Americans. Workers at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn., rejected the UAW in 1989 and 2001 votes, but no election has been held at the plant in Canton. The Mississippi campaign has featured support from NAACP and actor Danny Glover, as well as a rally this March headlined by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and former Democratic presidential candidate.

The union lost a vote among all workers at Volkswagen AG’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., but then won a vote among 160 maintenance workers. That was the first-ever win for the UAW at a foreign-owned auto plant in the American South. German-based Volkswagen had refused to bargain with those workers, saying representation decisions should be made by the entire hourly work force.

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