Monday, November 19, 2018

Union buster Carlos Ghosn is gone as Nissan chairman, accused of dipping into company coffers for his own enrichment and understating his earnings at the company

(Carlos Ghosn in 2009)

Japanese authorizes places Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn under arrest today (November 19) for claims that he dipped into the company till to enrich his already handsome earnings and that he has been lowballing the amount of those earnings for years.

The Reuters news agency reports that the Nissan Board will fire Ghosn this week, and his chairmanship and status as CEO of partner firm Renault is in question as French President Emmanuel Macron said the company’s top shareholders, the French government, is monitoring developments closely.

“To have so greatly violated the trust of many, I feel full of disappointment and regret,” Hiroto Saikawa, who took over from Ghosn as Nissan CEO last year, said at a news conference. “”It’s not just disappointment, but a stronger feeling of outrage and, for me, despondency.”

Saikaway had worked closely with Ghosn for years.

Nissan Representative Director Greg Kelly has also been accused of financial misdeeds.

Ghosn's earnings at the company were estimated at $10 million annually in late 2017, and his total worth was estimated at $100 million. Nissan is a $38.4 billion company that received a $363 million incentives package from the nation's poorest state, Mississippi, in 2000 to build a plant there. Those incentives have increased substantially since 2000, according to the United Auto Workers. In 1980, the state of Tennessee gave Nissan $44 million in incentives to build a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Both Nissan and Renault stock values have dropped as the business world reels from the news about one of its most public and highly esteemed figures.

Labor South readers know Carlos Ghosn’s name well as he led Nissan through long years of union battles at the company’s plants in Tennessee and Mississippi, the only non-unionized plants in a corporation that stretches across the globe. Ghosn fought those union efforts tooth and nail although he told the French Parliament in 2016 that Nissan always cooperates with unions.

In 2001, however, he famously (infamously, I should say) warned Nissan workers in Smyrna the day before a union election there that voting “Yes” to a union “is not in your best interests.” They got the message and voted “No”, just as they did at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, in August 2017. That vote came after intense pressure from Nissan management to keep the union out, pressure that included direct violations of international labor standards, according to a 2013 report commissioned by the United Auto Workers.

Ghosn actually rose to fame in the corporate world by slashing so many jobs that he became known in France as “le cost killer”.

Born to Lebanese parents in Brazil and a French citizen as well as a British knight, Ghosn is a comic-book hero in Japan who formerly oversaw the North American operations of the Michelin tire company. Operating out of Greenville, South Carolina, Ghosn’s Michelin successfully prevented the documentary Uprising of ’34 from being shown at the Spartanburg Technical College in 1995. The landmark documentary dealt with the killing of seven striking textile workers in nearby Honea Path, South Carolina, in 1934.

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