Watch: Q&A Robert Hathorn: Nissan workers’ regrets and the fight back.

(Emre Yagci)

Payday is proud to present our new long form interview series, “Q&A.”

Our first guest is Robert Hathorn, a union activist and Nissan worker in Canton, Mississippi.

Hathorn was one of the 1,307 workers who voted to unionize at Nissan. He previously worked at unionized workplace at the Postal Service and UPS Freight, and says that despite the loss, many folks like him within the plant remain committed to the fight.

The union still maintains a large presence within the workforce. They have filed several federal labor rights charges against Nissan, and are hoping that the National Labor Relations Board orders a new election under fairer circumstances.

“Immediately, after that people that were pro-union, they like hit my inbox, called me, and they said next time, they are going to go to all the meetings. They are going to do all of this because they are ready,” says Hathorn.

Nissan workers remain optimistic that they could win a second union election since anti-union workers are already expressing their regret. Hathorn says that the media coverage denouncing Nissan’s tactics has turned the tide with some workers.

“Some of the people, who regretted their decision afterward, saw how big it was because Saturday morning it hit national news and it was everywhere that Nissan workers rejected their union,” says Hathorn.

Despite having lost, the union still maintains a very large presence in the plant. Now, workers say that showing courage in sticking up for their coworkers is key to winning the next election.

“If you are just wearing the shirt, the UAW shirt or just a union shirt, to me that’s protection,” says Hathorn. “Right now, there is no protection, you know, but with the union involved, you have way more protection than what you are getting.”

Watch our full 21-minute “Q & A”  with Robert Hathorn as he discusses the mood at Nissan as union activist hope for a second vote in a fairer election.

Donate to help us continue covering union efforts at Nissan and other workplaces in the South.

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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