UAW rallies for Flex-N-Gate employees
DETROIT -- UAW members and supporters rallied Wednesday, Feb. 13, at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Warren, Mich., and elsewhere to bring attention to what the union cites as mistreatment of workers and lagging wages and benefits.
The supplier of bumpers and other parts, owned by billionaire Shahid Khan and based in Urbana, Ill., has become a high-profile target of the UAW and President Bob King.
The union held rallies at seven Flex-N-Gate plants in five states, it said, to secure a better contract for employees and organize workers at another plant. About 40 percent of the company's U.S. operations are unionized.
Before last week's rallies, the UAW said the demonstrations would "shine a light on the company's treatment of workers at its nonunion facilities" and "support ... workers bargaining for new contracts."
The union's chief concerns are contracts, wages and safety for Flex-N-Gate workers, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said. She said employees at nonunionized Flex-N-Gate plants earn about $10 an hour even if they have more than 10 years of service with the supplier.
UAW workers at Flex-N-Gate operations earn about $14 an hour, she said. Working conditions at the company's nonunionized plants are worse than at unionized plants, Estrada added. "These aren't just allegations," she said.
Workers at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Texas have been illegally terminated or disciplined for trying to unionize there, according to a National Labor Relations Board order and decision issued last June.
In a statement last week, the company said: "Flex-N-Gate associates receive competitive wages, enjoy quality growth opportunities and benefit from our ongoing commitment to safe working conditions. The vast majority of Flex-N-Gate associates are happy with their employment."
Khan, whose net worth was estimated at $2.5 billion by Forbes magazine and who also owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, was also targeted by the UAW and union allies during last year's NFL draft.
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