SPOKANE, Wash. – The union who represents Spokane Transit Authority workers is calling for the resignation of the STA Human Resource Director.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1015 President Thomas Leighty showed a Facebook post by Nancy Williams. She shared a news story from the New York Post about a man with special needs who was tortured by his attackers while they streamed it live on Facebook. With the share she wrote, “Thought I would see more outrage on Facebook about this… these “kids” are despicable animals."
A woman wrote on the post, “Their actions have been encouraged by the outgoing creature who also enflamed all this. Hell awaits and it cannot be too soon. If you don’t teach primates at an early age, (no matter what skin they are in) they continue to be non-civilized. The punishment they are now receiving would not have been allowed even six months ago. So where’s ol Jessy and Al? Hiding under some rocks?” Another woman wrote, “Dumbest comment I’ve read today.” Then, Williams said “I would agree!...Seems like many others agree with my aunts comments.” She then told the woman her comment was “hilarious.”
Williams was hired by STA in March 2017. The post in question was posted on January 2017.
"One of our ATU members had got in contact with me saying he remembered seeing something on Nancy Williams' Facebook page. So we started looking into it. As soon as we verified it ourselves, we wanted to make it public as soon as possible because we feel information like this shouldn't be kept private," Leighty explained.
Union leaders are also asking for a full, independent investigation of the comments by the board of directors.
"There's no room for this type of bigotry in the private sector and no room for it in public institutions," Leighty said.
He said Williams is unqualified as an HR Director because it is her job to investigate racist or inappropriate remarks and report them.
"It's also her job to fairly hire individuals and at this time without an investigation being done, we have no idea whether or not somebody who was qualified to work at a transit agency was denied to work there based on their race or gender or sexual identity," Leighty explained.
An STA official released a statement after the press conference that said:
“Spokane Transit has an unwavering commitment to diversity and non-discrimination in each and every level of the organization. From our hiring practices to our transit planning outreach, or the services we provide to thousands of people every day, our goal is to be a source of pride for the region. We can only be that by ensuring an environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity.
Through today’s ATU 1015 press conference, we were made aware of a claim of discrimination and STA Board leadership will take immediate action to investigate.”