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UAW leads pickets for decent jobs at Flex-N-Gate

14 February, 2013The United Autoworkers (UAW) mobilized together with non-union workers simultaneously at seven plants across the US on 13 February, together calling on their employer Flex-N-Gate to respect their rights to decent work and trade union rights.

The giant autoparts manufacturer based in Illinois, US supplies metal bumpers, interior and exterior plastic parts, lighting and stamped metal components primarily for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan. Flex-N-Gate is a US$3 billion company owned by Shahid Khan, the 179th richest American, and is one of the fastest growing autoparts companies in the US. But despite the massive resources, Flex-N-Gate has illegally obstructed UAW’s organizing effort in its non-union facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Texas for over a year. The non-union workers are also exposed to life-threatening hazards on the job.

The 13 February simultaneous “Unite for Justice at Flex-N-Gate” pickets at plants in five states called on Flex-N-Gate to invest in its US workforce by improving safety, paying a living wage, and reversing its anti-union organizing strategy at its non-union plants. The pickets were joined and supported by UAW members at client companies, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

At plants in Warren, Michigan, and Belvidere, Illinois, UAW members are in the final stages of negotiating a new contract with Flex-N-Gate. Over the weekend, 9-10 February, workers there voted overwhelmingly to strike, if necessary, to achieve a fair contract. 

"We have raised concerns about issues at both unionized and non-union plants during these negotiations," said Billy Williams, a member of UAW Local 155's bargaining committee in Warren. "Wages and working conditions at Flex-N-Gate's non-union plants directly affect our ability to bargain a fair contract. When the company is allowed to pay poverty wages and cut corners on important issues like safety at its non-union plants, it's that much harder for us to continue to move forward in our contract negotiations. Those plants undercut the standards we've worked so hard to establish. They don't compete based on quality or efficiency - just on how low they can drive standards."

See more at the UAW’s dedicated Justice at Flex-N-Gate campaign page.

The UAW is continuing to ramp up pressure on Nissan at its assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, another organizing target.