Ann Arbor Workers Protest Racism at Work, Call for Legal Action

On Monday afternoon, dozens of individuals gathered on the campus of the University of Michigan to demonstrate against workplace racism, WXYZ reported.

The demonstration was related to a lawsuit brought in January 2022 against United Electrical Contractors, which has locations in Lansing and Livonia. Former workers claim that corporate bosses often discriminated against them and that nothing was done, the publication noted.

“The reason me and other people were fired is because we stood up for ourselves and we were retaliated against,” Richardson said in the article. “It has effected me in numerous ways, literally so many other ways. I’ve been very stressed about the situation. I was very depressed about it at first. When I first got out of high school, I thought I’d be an electrician, try to get myself into the trades in order to make a good life for my future and hopefully a good way to support my family.”

According to Richardson, supervisors at the corporation did not give employees of color the same resources or training as they did to white employees. When Black and Brown employees complained about the discrimination, according to Richardson, nothing was done, and they were instead fired. He claims that although white coworkers with less experience on the job were not let go, his employer used the pandemic to justify seniority-based layoffs.

The “United 6 Plus” are the victims who filed the complaint; however, the lawsuit has now added more plaintiffs.

“I started out as a floor man at United Electric and then I suffered a minor injury. Upon the injury, I was demoted and then I was basically a grunt worker after that. I got bounced around job site to job site,” said Jordan Shank, who is also involved with the lawsuit said.

“You couldn’t even fathom how often it happened, but it happened a lot. It’s not a good thing, not in 2022 or 2023,” Shank said.

In a statement, UEC president Scott Flegler said the following:

These activities are part of an ongoing harassment campaign orchestrated by the IBEW, designed to interfere with our company’s operations and relationships and tarnish our reputation.

We take any claims of discrimination extremely seriously and have a track record of doing so. When these allegations – which do not involve any project in Ann Arbor – were first made against us more than a year ago, we conducted a thorough review that revealed nothing to substantiate the claims. And since that time, the IBEW’s lawyers have offered no evidence whatsoever to support their allegations.

We are also very proud of our diverse and talented workforce. Diversity is one of our core values and key differentiators of our company. We not only include diversity and inclusion videos in our employee health and safety training program, but we also provide our employees with in-person diversity and inclusion training through a certified, third-party instructor.

We appreciate the ongoing support of our customers, who trust the quality and reliability of our team, while respecting the values of our company.

Read the full story here.

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