Protesters planned rallies at Nissan dealerships in cities across the southern U.S. amid criticism of working conditions at its Mississippi auto plant.
The Tennessean reported that dozens of protesters convened near a Nashville dealership Thursday and that similar protests were scheduled over the weekend in Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala.
Critics alleged that Nissan treated its Canton, Miss., workers poorly and undermined efforts to form a union at the plant.
"It’s just a lack of dignity we’re having to deal with, and we’re told we’re ungrateful when we say we want to unionize," Ernest Whitfield, a Canton employee picketing at the Nashville rally, told the paper.
The United Auto Workers union long sought to organize a local chapter at the plant near Jackson, Miss., as part of their attempts to make inroads at Southern auto plants owned by overseas automakers.
Protesters also criticized the Canton plant's safety record — including a pair of OSHA violations last year — along with the practice hiring of temporary workers.
Nissan responded that the allegations from the union were "completely unfounded.”
"Nissan's history reflects that we truly value our employees and respect their right to decide who should represent them," the Japanese automaker said in a statement to The Tennessean.