SID SALTER: UAW’s tactics aren’t about civil rights



The rhetoric from the United Auto Workers and their hired or rented guns that seeks to equate union organizing efforts at Nissan’s Canton plant with the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s truly strains credulity.

The line being peddled is that both Mississippians and the wider world should equate civil rights with the UAW’s desire for a union vote at the Nissan plant in Canton. The struggle for “civil rights” sounds far more noble and desirable than what is actually happening in Canton and across the landscape of foreign-owned automobile manufacturing plants in the South – which is nothing more or less than a desperate struggle for survival by a union that has endured a 75 percent membership decline since 1979.

In Canton, in Chattanooga, Tenn.’s Volkswagen plant and in Vance, Ala.’s, Mercedes plant, the UAW continues to nibble around the edges of unionization by pushing card check instant organizing schemes.

And in the South – and perhaps in no state more than Mississippi – the UAW and their sycophants seek to cloak that unionization effort in the South’s sorry history on civil rights.

Politically, it’s both a convenient and powerful narrative that has absolutely nothing to do with any actual civil rights shortcomings by the targeted companies.

The stakes in the South and particularly in Mississippi are high for the UAW’s president, Bob King. “Bob King has basically staked his legacy on organizing these international assembly plants,” Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, recently told the Detroit Free Press.

While using the rhetoric of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, the pro-union voices in the Mississippi political establishment are in truth carrying Bob King’s water.

The pro-union forces aligned with the UAW – including Mississippi NAACP leaders Derrick Johnson, a handful of Canton-area African-American ministers, and let us not forget that great Mississippi leading actor Danny Glover – get plenty of recognition in a national media that embraces the false and misleading narrative that Mississippi’s right-to-work laws represent civil rights violations.

But what about reputable prominent Mississippi African-American leaders like former Mission Mississippi chairman Dolphus Weary and others in the Move Mississippi Forward group who oppose unionization as an impediment to good jobs and economic growth in Mississippi?

Readers can learn more about that group at

The bottom line is that the UAW is a union in decline that must infiltrate Southern auto plants to survive.

Since Nissan came to Canton (and remember Canton’s pre-Nissan economy?), some 16,000 Mississippians have good, high-paying jobs. The UAW doesn’t want to build on that, they want to leech from it to replenish their own dying business model.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at (601) 507-8004 or

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  • Mikoma

    Good column, Sid. African American citizens in Mississippi should rise up in righteous indignation over the mere suggestion that unionizing employees equates to the civil rights struggle. Unions are a dying breed but will stop at nothing to deceive employees into buying in to their fairy tales. I believe our workers in Mississippi are much too smart to fall for such deception.