By SUSAN KIRVIN
Valley News Staff Writer -
The United Auto Workers Union has endorsed a job discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of Black Stuntmen in Los Angeles against a Motorcycle manufacturer. The international executive board of the UAW, meeting in Black Lake, Michigan last week, voted to support The Black Stuntmen Association in their fight against American Honda Motor Co. Inc. for reportedly refusing to hire black actors and stuntmen for television commercials, said Alex Sweeten Jr., Vice President of UAW Local 509
He said the UAW, which has 1.4 million members nationally, will urge members to boycott Honda products. In a letter signed by Jerry Whipple, Regional Director of the UAW, the union said it would support the stunt group’s civil suit against the firm because of it’s discriminatory practices in not hiring any black stuntmen for their Honda Motorcycle commercials.
Willie Harris, spokesman for the Black Stuntmen’s Association, said many qualified black actors and stunt men reportedly applied for jobs in Honda television commercials, but were not hired because Honda reportedly claimed “blacks didn’t show a good image on television”. He alleged a Honda representative told him Honda was not obligated to use blacks in TV commercials and was not discriminating as long as blacks were employed in the service plant. A representative for American Honda Motor Co. Inc. has denied the allegations. Members of the Black
Stuntmen Association and several black motorcycle club members Friday picketed American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
In Gardena, Attorney Stuart M. Rice, representing the stunt men, said after reviewing 27 Honda television commercials aired over a three-year period, he found only three (3) blacks out of 120 performers were used in
commercials. Harris said more than 3,000 members of black motorcycle clubs in the Los Angeles County own and
ride Honda Motorcycles. Plaintiffs in the case are asking for compensatory damages for income they claim to have
lost since 1971.