ARLINGTON — Workers at a company that provides bumpers for Arlington’s General Motors plant have voted to join a labor union.The vote by employees of Flex-N-Gate Corp. to join United Auto Workers came after several years of contentiousness. In February, more than 60 union members from other plants in the North Texas area walked the perimeter of Flex-N-Gate, just a few miles from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.The demonstrators said Flex-N-Gate workers are paid so poorly that some receive food stamps. Also, in September 2010 a union election at Flex-N-Gate failed, but the National Labor Relations Board found the company had employed unfair tactics and illegally fired three pro-union workers.On Monday, Flex-N-Gate company spokesman Jim Woodcock declined to comment on the successful UAW election that took place Wednesday in Arlington. But he did release a company statement.“Our employees have always had freedom of choice to organize, and we will always respect the decision they make,” Woodcock said. “We look forward to continued success with all of our employees in Arlington.”The company supplies bumpers for GM and has about 13,000 employees at more than 50 factories worldwide.It is based in Urbana, Ill., and owned by Shahid "Shad" Khan, a self-made, Pakistani-born billionaire who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars pro football club.UAW officials were elated at the election results. Nearly 80 workers voted to join AUW during the election at the plant, they said.“We hope that through this election we can establish a relationship with Flex-N-Gate that best benefits the workers,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who represents the union's Competitive Shop/Independents, Parts and Suppliers Department.“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,” she said.In a previous interview, Estrada had said about 40 percent of workers at Flex-N-Gate are unionized - but only at factories that already had representation when Khan acquired them.Flex-N-Gate officials have said their firm abides by the Global Sullivan Principles and an International Labor Organization declaration that guarantees workers' rights to free assembly and collective bargaining.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson