December 11, 2015
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Nissan Motor Co.’s prohibition on employees wearing message T-shirts at its plant in Canton, Mississippi, is an unfair labor practice, the National Labor Relations Board charged Nov. 30.
The board also accused Kelly Services, a contract worker agency Nissan hires workers through, with violating workers’ rights. The United Auto Workers, which has been trying to organize the plant for several years, filed the complaint against a company dress code established in 2014 that forbade T-shirts with writing on them. The union argued that that interfered with workers’ rights to wear pro-union attire—and the NLRB noted, their right to wear anti-union T-shirts as well.
A company memo issued Dec. 1 said the dress code’s purpose was to “reduce vehicle mutilation.The T-shirts don’t hurt the cars,” responded Kathleen McKinney, NLRB regional director in New Orleans. “We consider that policy to be overbroad.” Nissan is also charged with having a manager threaten to fire workers who supported the union and that the plant would close if they voted to unionize. A hearing is scheduled for March 9. Read more