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Actor Danny Glover At NAIAS To Push For Workers' Rights

DETROIT (WWJ) - Celebrity power was in action in downtown Detroit on Monday.

Actor Danny Glover stopped by the North American International Auto Show to speak out on behalf of workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi who have been barred from organizing a union.

The UAW is supporting the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN) in its efforts to start a union at the factory, which has 5,000 full and contract laborers.

Glover criticized Nissan for hiring temporary labor at lower pay and fewer benefits than the regular workforce.

"To keep workers temporary means that, in the midst of making enormous profits in a community that has a 30-year tax exempt, while at the same time that is in place, not allowing workers to organize -- there's something sinister here," Glover said.

Glover noted that like Mississippi, Michigan is now a right-to-work state. "The right to work doesn't mean you don't have the right to organize," Glover said. "They have unions in South Africa and Japan. We're only asking for the right to vote on a union and not face intimidation."

"This is not only a fight for the workers in Mississippi, it's for all workers. For the right to stand up and say 'I am a man'," Glover said.

Nissan says they have an "excellent" working relationship with their employees and prefers to deal with their workers directly, and not through an outside party.

Said Rev. Isiac Jackson, president of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi and chair of MAFFAN, "With Nissan, you have to look beneath the shine. Nissan builds great vehicles, but the company should respect the rights and dignity of its Mississippi workforce."

Nissan-glover protest
Members of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan hold protest in Detroit. (credit: WWJ/Ron Dewey)
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