The United Auto Workers is desperately trying to unionize U.S. workers employed at auto assembly plants owned by BMW, Mercedes, Nissan and VW.
After years of falling membership and the bankruptcies of two out of the Big Three auto companies in Detroit, the UAW needs to unionize new auto workers or face oblivion.
In addition to deploying union organizers with–like, you know, actual union experience, the UAW is turning to an unusual source…college kids.
“We are different from other generations,” says the 19-year-old English major at nearby Tougaloo College. “We have such an individualistic ideal, how we see things. We have to get away from that and see other people’s problems. … If we took our eyes off that narrow path and look at the person next to us, we could unify.”
Young people are a key reason things are happening on the UAW-Nissan front. The call from workers and community supporters for a fair union election at the Canton plant is getting louder.
The 150-plus members of the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance from Tougaloo and Jackson State University in Jackson, joined by supporters from other colleges in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, are taking the issue into neighborhoods, car dealerships, auto shows, on-campus rallies, the Internet and YouTube.
Clearly exploiting the fact that these college kids don’t seem to realize that ‘individualistic ideals’ are counterintuitive to the collectivist union model that the UAW believes in, the UAW has tapped into a good source for cheap non-union labor.
No wonder the union movement is in crisis.