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Billionaire Shahid Kahn, owner of Flex N Gate Incorporated, manafactures bumpers for the automobile industry and employs over 12,450 Workers at 50 manafacturing and 9 product development and engineering facilities throughout Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the United States, with revenue in excess of  3-BILLION dollars per year.
Kahn has donated millions of dollars to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign over the years, with several plaques and buildings on the U of I campaus with his name on them.
Kahn is also Chairman of Flightstar Aircraft Management, owner of the Urbana Illinois Country Club and a 223 foot yacht worth 112 MILLION dollars.
Kahn most recently has also purchased the Jacksonville Florida Jaguars football tean for a cool 760 MILLION dollars.
In early December 2011, Workers at Flex N Gate’s Guardian West plant in Urbana Illinois, filed complaints with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA ) alleging more than 30 violations of OSHA standards.
Many of the violations are related to exposure to hexavalent chromium, which can cause cancer when Workers breathe the chemicals fumes or have skin contact with the chemical.
Exposure to hexavalent also causes danage to the nose, throat and respiratory system as well as allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms that includes wheezing and shortness of breathe.
OSHA requires that Workers must know the proper way to perform a task in order to minimaize exposure  and Employers are required to provide appropriate protective clothing and equipment. This also includes requirements for change rooms, washing facilities and eating and drinking areas to minimize exposure.
The OSHA complaints filed by Flex N Gate Workers state that ;
1) The company has not provided sufficient training and communication on what chemicals Workers are exposed to and the potential adverse health effects
2) The company does not give Workers access to the proper personal protection equipment
3) The company’s practices and procedures subjects Workers to unsafe conditions.
In addition to the OSHA complaints public records from the city of Urbana reveal a history of unsafe conditions in the Flex N Gate plant resulting in several fires over the years dating back to 2004 and as recent as August 2011.
According to reports by the Urbana Fire Department Flex N Gate has had a pattern of problems resulting in fires due to extremely dirty filters and untidy conditions throughout the plant.
With all of these dangerous conditions the Flex N Gate Workers are paid wages that keep them hovering at the poverty line and a system of management pitting the various groups of Workers ( White, African American, Latino and French speaking African Congolese ) against each other with some getting more priviledges and better working conditions while others ( especialy the Congolese Workers ) are given few if any priviledges and do the majority of the dirty and dangerous work.
There has also been a series of retaliations against Flex N Gate Workers who have complained at the plant about the conditions as well those who have gone public with their story. Most recently the retaliation has expanded outside of the Flex N Gate plant.
On the weekend of February 11th and 12th, Congolese Flex N Gate Workers and their families living at the Continental Plaza and Stoneleigh apartment complexes received letters from their landlord – Royce and Brinkmeyer Apartments – stating that the company will NOT renew their leases. The letter went on to say that the landlord has had ” less than satisfactory experience ” with these tenants. After an investigation by Flex N Gate supporters ( knocking on every single apartment door in both complexes and talking to residents ) NO ONE else in the apartment complex has received such a letter.
The Flex N Gate Workers who received these letters, none of them were behind on their rent, or ever received warnings for making noise or not properly maintaining their apartments or for anything else.
Within 5-hours after Central Illinois Jobs with Justice sent out an e-mail blast to it’s supporters and allies within the Champaign-Urbana community Tuesday morning of Valentines Day, Royce and Brinkmeyer’s Chief Operating Officer Colin Carlier, spent Valentines Day evening hand delivery letters to the Flex N Gate Congolese Workers at their apartments offering them the oppurtunity to renew their leases.
With this victory behind us we still have a lot of work to do in order to force Flex N Gate owner Shahid Kahn to spend the necessary money to provide proper safety equipment, training, and overall workplace safety as well as ending the abusive and manipulative working conditions and not interfere in the Flex N Gate Workers rights to form a Union in order to receive decent wages, benefits and working conditions.
Central Illinois Jobs with Justice has multiple events already planned for the remainder of February and March and however long it takes to achieve justice for these Workers.
We have also made arrangements for a documentary film to be made about the Flex N Gate Workers struggle against a greedy 1-percenter, Shahid Kahn, who would rather spend close to a BILLION dollars on such things as Football teams and a 223 foot yacht, instead of providing safe working conditions, benefits and decent wages to his employees, who are the ones who essentialy create ALL of his extreme wealth.
If you want to support the struggle of the Flex N Gate Workers in Urbana Illinois, you can sign a letter of support at the link below and e-mailing it to rbaldwin@seiu73.org or printing it, signing and mailing it to ;
Central Illinois Jobs with Justice
801 E. California
Urbana, Illinois 61802
OR Call 217-443-8317 for info on how YOU can help.
David Johnson
Central Illinois Jobs withJustice
Champaign-Urbana Illinois
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