LIMA — A national civil rights group is investigating Dana Corp. and the union that represents its Lima line workers.
Bishop Richard E. Cox, president of the Dayton chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a member of the group’s national board, met with a group of former and current Lima Dana employees Friday to discuss steps to battle what he calls a pattern of intimidation and harassment by the company and the leadership of United Auto Workers union Local 1765.
Cox said black employees from the plant contacted him earlier this year with complaints about racial discrimination at the plant and intimidation and collusion on the part of union leadership.
“We are concerned about these allegations and about the fact that the union is not representing its members,” Cox said. “We believe they [Dana] are in bed with the union. They have a good marriage going on.”
The employees presented a list of complaints going back almost a decade, including allegations of wrongful firing, altering time cards and attendance records in favor of white employees, and harassment.
Ben Reeder said he was fired in December 2009 after about two years with Dana. He was officially fired for conduct detrimental to the production of the plant. Specifically, he said, he produced three to five bad parts out of about 135 parts produced during the day.
“What I was fired for was happening all over. We know Caucasians that had 63 bad parts and never got walked out. They were never even reprimanded,” Reeder said.
Dana Plant Manager Gary Golden was not available for comment Friday. A receptionist at his office said he was on vacation. Calls to the offices of UAW Local 1765 and the national offices of the UAW were not returned Friday.
Cox said the employees have reached out to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the national UAW offices, but have received no response.
His goal is to get the UAW and Dana officials to the table to discuss the complaints. Barring that, they will organize employees and ask the national Southern Christian Leadership Conference to hound Dana at the national level.
“Unless we can get fair treatment for these employees, we may see fit to deal with this at the national level,” Cox said. “This is not about black and white. This is about justice and injustice. I do not want them to take this lightly because we certain do not.”