ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Nissan to cut up to 700 contract workers in US

Carmaker cites slow sales of vans and pickup trucks made at Mississippi plant

Sales of the Titan pickup truck fell 5% in 2018. The 2016 model is shown in this file photo.   © Reuters

JACKSON, U.S. (AP) -- Nissan Motor announced Thursday that it's cutting up to 700 contract workers at its Mississippi assembly plant, citing slowing sales for vans and Titan pickup trucks that it makes there.

The move follows Nissan's December announcement that it's cutting 1,000 jobs at two Mexican factories. Reports in May indicated the Japanese automaker would cut production by up to 20 percent in North America, citing low profits.

Thursday's move comes after the arrest in Japan of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, who led a production expansion in Nissan's largest market. The company has struggled to sell all those vehicles in recent years, turning heavily to incentives and fleet sales to soak up the excess. Spokeswoman Lloryn Love-Carter said the cuts are unrelated to Ghosn's ouster as chairman and new managers taking over at Nissan.

Nissan has 6,400 direct employees and contract workers who labor side-by-side on production lines in Canton, Mississippi, just north of Jackson. The company has long prided itself on a no-layoff pledge for its direct employees in Canton, and Love-Carter said any affected direct employees would be moved to new jobs. But that doesn't apply to contract workers, who were cut sharply during the recession.

Love-Carter said the company is offering a buyout to workers 55 or older, and that at least some layoffs over the next 60 days could also be averted as workers quit through attrition.

"We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact to the associate workforce," Love-Carter said.

The company will reduce production of NV cargo and passenger vans from two shifts to one. It will reduce production of Frontier and Titan pickups from three shifts to two. Sales of the larger Titan fell 5 percent in 2018 to about 50,000, while sales of the smaller Frontier rose 7 percent to 80,000. The Frontier will also face challenges in coming months, as Ford and Fiat Chrysler's Jeep division introduce new small trucks. Nissan plans a new-model Frontier to be made in Canton, which has a 450,000-vehicle capacity.

The company also assembles Altima sedans and Murano SUVs in Mississippi.

Love-Carter said production will fall and some jobs will be cut by attrition at Nissan's 1,600-employee engine factory in Decherd, Tennessee, but that Thursday's announcement doesn't affect its 8,400-employee Smyrna, Tennessee, factory.

Mississippi officials have pointed with pride to Nissan, the state's first major automaker. The company says it has invested $3.4 billion in Canton since it opened in 2003, and the company has received what could be more than $1 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks over 30 years.

Nissan went through a bruising union election at the Canton plant in 2017, with workers rejecting United Auto Workers representation. At the time, 3,700 of the workers on the campus were direct Nissan employees. More than 62 percent of those direct Nissan employees voted against the union.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media