CBS' Khan story sidesteps controversy
CBS' poignant "60 Minutes" profile of Shahid Khan, the Pakistan-born billionaire who owns supplier Flex-N-Gate and the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, avoided the nonfootball topics that have put Khan in the news this year: his stormy relations with the UAW and environmental activists.
For instance, there was nothing about the protest staged by the UAW and its allies on NFL Draft Day in April in New York. The demonstration highlighted an organizing drive aimed at Flex-N-Gate and allegations that carcinogenic chemicals were spilled at an idled Detroit-area plant owned by the company.
The union is trying to organize workers at 13 plants in seven states operated by Flex-N-Gate, which makes bumpers and other parts for nearly every major automaker.
About 40 percent of Flex-N-Gate's U.S. workers have union representation.
In August, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said Flex-N-Gate's nonunion employees are paid what she called unlivable wages of $9 to $10 an hour, and said the safety conditions at some plants are among the worst she has seen.
The "60 Minutes" broadcast on Oct. 28 focused on Khan's success story.
Now 60, he came to the United States at age 16, taking a job washing dishes.
After earning an engineering degree, Khan went to work for Flex-N-Gate before quitting in 1978 to establish a rival company, Bumper Works.
Two years later he bought Flex-N-Gate and has made the privately held company one of the world's largest auto suppliers. He acquired the Jaguars for $700 million in January.
The broadcast highlighted Khan's first season as an NFL owner and followed him on a trip to Pakistan this year to visit his mother and brother, his childhood home and the local cricket stadium.
Flex-N-Gate has declined repeatedly to comment on the UAW organizing drive and on environmental complaints. The UAW did not respond to queries about Khan's appearance on "'60 Minutes."