PRESS RELEASE for immediate release, July 2020
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This Auto Worker Caravan press release presents some UAW Local 1219, Lima, Ohio Ford Engine Plant African-American workers’ own written statements about a particular racist incident and its broader significance.
Some Lima Ford workers’ statements:
I. “The racism has intensified as I’ve shared with several members of Auto Worker Caravan. Currently I have a grievance against a supervisor that practices unfair treatment to minorities and women. The latest incident was a monkey hung with a noose around its neck in the plant. With tensions running high after the termination of the individual that hung the monkey there is a greater division between some blacks and some whites.”
II. “I know the contract but with the lower seniority black workers, I’d be afraid for my job because supervisors are looking for an excuse to get you fired. Even some team leaders do that. We are supposed to vote on team leaders but it’s Ford that says who is team leader. Ford will make a black worker do two jobs to cover for a white worker.”
III. “Once again the black community has been victimized with racial harassment and discrimination at Ford Motor Company Lima Engine Plant. A monkey hung in the work area of our toolmakers. Not only is the racism coming from fellow co-workers, it is also being openly displayed from management. A supervisor called a black man a ‘Boy’ and told him to get to work. Where do you go when your management is racist against you? You might win your grievance partially, just enough to be sure you stay on the discipline programs. Or the zero tolerance policy will be enforced but only enough to let the person know not to do it again. This isn’t a 35% tolerance policy because about 35% of the plant is black…. it’s supposed to be zero tolerance, making it equal and fair for us all.
We have 169 members of management. 3 of those are black. 36 team leader positions. 6 of them are black. It’s not because blacks aren’t applying, and not because they aren’t qualified. It’s because they’re being overlooked. Or the way us black people and a lot of honest whites at Ford Motor Company see it… racially discriminated.
There are parts of town we can’t go to alone, especially at night. It’s not safe for blacks. We’ve been taught that since we were kids. Drive through and don’t stop if you’re alone. A young black woman from the Lima community, Tarika Wilson, was killed by the Lima Police Department. Her children won over a million dollar settlement from the city of Lima but they’ll never have their mother back. A lot of the racism comes from people in the small surrounding towns, many who, until Ford motor company, never had to communicate with blacks for any reason.”