Probe Focuses on Drugs, Alcohol, Union Says : Bendix Fires 10 in Investigation
The North Hollywood-based Bendix Electrodynamics division of Allied-Signal Inc. has fired 10 hourly employees since June 12 as a result of a continuing internal investigation that, union officials say, is focused on employees’ use of drugs and alcohol.
Dennis Feeney, employee relations director for Bendix Electrodynamics, said the company has hired a private investigator to handle its inquiry. More firings are possible, he said.
United Auto Workers Local 179 in North Hollywood, which represents workers at the plant, requested a meeting with Bendix management to discuss the actions, and one was scheduled for Wednesday.
George Ricci, president of Local 179, said the company’s investigation is intended to uncover drug and alcohol use among its 765 employees. Feeney, who said Bendix Electrodynamics started a drug-screening program for prospective employees on Oct. 1, would neither confirm nor deny that the investigation was related to drugs or alcohol.
Feeney said the firings were related to “security infractions,” which he said include actions that disrupt work at the plant. He declined to elaborate.
Bendix Electrodynamics makes valves used in submarines to aid in navigation and actuators that move such parts as flaps and rudders in military aircraft.
Feeney denied a charge by Ricci that the fired employees were questioned and threatened with dismissal if they didn’t admit in writing to violations, including absenteeism, drinking beer during lunch and smoking marijuana away from work.
Didn’t Violate Rights
“We feel we conducted the investigation so as not to violate anyone’s rights,” Feeney said.
Ricci said the union has pressed the company for full disclosure of evidence to support the firings but has received only the workers’ written statements.
“We want proof,” he said. “It’s all hearsay charges.”
After questioning the 10 workers, Bendix Electrodynamics suspended them with pay for one or two days and then fired them upon their return to work. Feeney said the employees will not receive severance pay.