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Flex-N-Gate workers in Texas vote to join UAW

By: Vince Bond Jr.
AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

May 3, 2013

DETROIT -- Hourly workers at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Arlington, Texas, voted to join the UAW on Wednesday.

Of the 73 employees eligible to vote, 51 voted in favor of union representation and 22 opposed, the National Labor Relations Board said today. The NLRB conducted the election.

Flex-N-Gate, which is owned by Shahid Khan, a Pakistan-born billionaire who now owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, of Florida, has until May 8 to file any objections to the vote.

"This is a good day for the workers at this plant," UAW President Bob King said in a statement today. "This strong vote clearly shows that workers at this facility believe joining the UAW is the right choice."

If the company doesn't file, the board will issue a certification confirming the union as the bargaining representative of the employees, said Ofelia Gonzalez, assistant to the director of the NLRB's office in Fort Worth, Texas.

In a statement, Flex-N-Gate signaled it plans to honor the outcome of the vote.

"Our employees have always had the freedom of choice to organize, and we will always respect the decision they make," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to continued success with all of our employees in Arlington."

The UAW's organizing drive at the plant has been contentious. In the past, workers have been illegally terminated or disciplined for trying to unionize there, according to an NLRB order and decision issued last June.

The plant sequences products for General Motors' nearby Arlington Assembly plant.

"We look forward to this paving the way to show Flex-N-Gate that there is indeed added value for everyone when workers join the UAW," UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement.

While the vote can be viewed as a victory for the union, members at Flex-N-Gate plants in Warren, Mich., and Belvidere, Ill., have been trying to negotiate a new contract since February. The UAW contends the company won't bargain in good faith.

Flex-N-Gate, incorporated in 1956 and headquartered in Urbana, Ill., ranks No. 56 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide parts sales to automakers of $3.4 billion in 2011.