A Tennessee lawmaker whose district includes Nissan’s flagship plant is trying to limit the use of temporary workers on the assembly line, which was the most productive in the U.S. last year. The legislation targets companies like Nissan that are receiving government subsidies.
When a manufacturer lobbies for tax abatement deals or cash grants, it’s usually in exchange for creating a certain number of jobs. But if those are only temporary positions – which are becoming more common across the auto industry – Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) says companies shouldn’t qualify for state help.
Sparks, who used to work in the Nissan plant, says his push to rein in temp workers still squares with his conservative principles.
“Remember, once the government is involved, free market is off the table," he says. "Once you start getting incentives, you can’t argue free market any more.”
Nissan officials have argued that the temp jobs do include benefits and are meant to be stable, even if the hourly pay is lower.
Sparks says he still “admires” Nissan, but he also says he sees a correlation between the rise in temps and the number of apartment complexes and payday lenders popping up around the plant.
The Haslam Administration has also introduced legislation related to temporary workers and state incentives, though an economic development department spokesman says it's unrelated to Rep. Sparks' bill.
WPLN's Chas Sisk contributed to this report.