150 East Tennesseans out of work until UAW-GM strike ends

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BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – The United Auto Workers’ strike hit its one-month mark Tuesday. In that time, more than 49,000 General Motors employees have been off the clock.

It didn’t take 30 days for the lack of labor to trickle down to East Tennessee.

One hundred fifty people at Flex-N-Gate in Rockford were temporarily laid off due to the strike. The company makes many auto parts for multiple auto makers, including GM. Some of their parts include head lights, tail lights, plastic interior, even entire front-end modules of many cars and trucks. That’s just some of what they build at the Blount County facility.

The company’s website shows it ranks seventh out of 100 auto part suppliers in North America, citing Automotive News. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017, Flex-N-Gate was awarded General Motors’ Supplier of the Year. In 2013, 2014, and 2016, the company also received the GM Suppliers Quality Excellence Award.

“We deeply regret the impact the UAW strike has on our employees,” Flex-N-Gate Rockford said in a release. “We hope this is resolved as quickly as possible, so that we may resume production and get our people back to work. GM is our largest customer and is extremely valued by the entire Flex-N-Gate Rockford team.”

The company also noted this is a temporary and partial layoff. Roughly 60% of their workforce is still on the clock, producing for their other automakers. Their website shows they also manufacture original equipment manufacturer parts for Subaru, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler, and Honda.

“We are continuing to negotiate with meetings at all levels,” Brian Rothenberg of UAW International said. “When 97% of our GM membership voted to strike they did so to stand up for a pathway for temporary workers to a permanent job; better wages; quality affordable health care; and job security.

“The real question is what was the cost to UAW members and our nation’s middle class not to strike. That’s why 100% of our local UAW GM Council voted to strike. Some things are well worth the struggle of standing up and sacrificing for our families and our future.”

“The talks continue, and it remains remains our goal to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our company,” David Barnas of General Motors said.

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