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Stacey Pickering: Nissan has lived up to its promises

nissan-logoStatement from Stacey E. Pickering, State Auditor

A Washington, D.C. based organization called Good Jobs First recently released a false and misleading report funded by the United Auto Workers concerning the Nissan plant in Canton. Unfortunately, the report was short on facts and long on estimates.

As the UAW has continuously been unsuccessful over the past decade in unionizing workers at the Nissan plant, they have chosen guerilla tactics such as this to paint the company in a negative light.

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The Office of the State Auditor has been auditing Nissan employment numbers for ten years following the GAO’s Yellowbook Performance Audit Standards. We have found that they have consistently exceeded requirements mandated by law. In these audits, as in audits of all of the major projects assigned to the Auditor’s Office, if a company is not meeting or exceeding the requirements of their agreement with the state, then OSA will issue a demand and the companies are required to repay money to the state.

According to the law and the Memorandum of Understandings between Nissan and the state of Mississippi, Nissan was required to maintain 3,000 new direct jobs at the project site until 2021. As of our last audit in December, 2011, Nissan employed over 4,100 employees, far exceeding the mandated requirements.

The original Nissan project was broken into two phases. The first phase specified Nissan create 4,000 new direct jobs by December 31, 2003 to receive state incentives. In a report published by my office, which is available on our website, we verified Nissan created 4,454 new direct jobs as of December 31, 2003, again exceeding the mandate of the law and their contract with the state.

The second phase required Nissan to create an additional 1,300 new direct full-time jobs by December 31, 2004 to receive incentives from the state. In the second report, also available on our website, OSA verified Nissan employed/ created 5,727 new direct jobs as of December 31, 2004.

We continue to audit and monitor the Nissan project and they continue to meet and exceed requirements and expectations.

The numbers do not lie. Beyond the jobs Nissan created, there is more disposable income that generates sales tax, property tax from homeowners, and many other ancillary benefits that would not have otherwise existed. They have produced more than 2 million vehicles and nearly $2 billion in payroll.

Nissan is heavily involved in both the local community and the State. Since 2003, Nissan has contributed more than $5 million to a wide range of community-based organizations, while also sponsoring scholarship programs for Mississippi children to attend local colleges and universities.

In 2012, Nissan paid more than $3.6 million to Madison County, and of that, more than $2 million went to Canton Public Schools. Nissan has been a great deal for Mississippi, has lived up to all of the promises they agreed to, and helped our state land future economic development projects including Toyota and, most recently, Yokohama Tire.

For those employed by Nissan, they enjoy a secure job with very good pay and benefits, and employees do not have to pay union dues for the opportunity to work at Nissan. Salaries of the employees meet or exceed the requirements set forth in state agreements as well. But because Nissan employees have chosen to remain union-free, the UAW has decided to smear Nissan as part of their campaign.

For the UAW, succeeding in a place like Canton is necessary for their survival. Over the past four decades, UAW membership has plummeted from 1.5 million to less than 400,000 today. Revenues from union dues, which fund the union, are down over 40 percent in the past decade.

They have twice failed to unionize at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee- with around 70 percent of workers voting against the union in two separate votes held at the plant. They have been equally unsuccessful in other auto plants in the South. During this time, hundreds of thousands of jobs have fled the union stronghold of Detroit as Right-to-Work states were opening new plants and creating jobs, all while the taxpayers were forced to bailout General Motors and Chrysler.

Whether the UAW chooses to hold a rally with out-of-state protestors and a Hollywood celebrity, or releases another false and misleading report, the facts show that Nissan has met all of the requirements mandated by the state and they have proven to be a very good deal for Mississippi. I am happy that they chose Mississippi, and we are better off as a state because of it.

The taxpayers of Mississippi can be rest assured that the Office of the State Auditor will continue to monitor Nissan and other economic development projects in the future. All of our fact based reports can be found at www.osa.ms.gov/Nissan.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.