Workers, union members rally at Belvidere auto parts facility - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Workers, union members rally at Belvidere auto parts facility for higher pay

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UAW member John Gedney UAW member John Gedney
Ventra Belvidere employee Rebecca Villarreal Ventra Belvidere employee Rebecca Villarreal

Flex-N-Gate, an automotive parts manufacturer, owns area business Ventra Belvidere. These companies are in the spotlight for what their workers call "unfair" treatment.

There are around 50 pages worth of U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA, safety violations handed down to Flex-N-Gate. OSHA's been inspecting the company's non-union Urbana facility on and off since December 2011. The corporation's received citations at Urbana for violations like employers not providing protective equipment, insufficient emergency training and no medical examinations after workers were exposed to chemicals. It's all amounted to around $125,000 in fines. On top of that, there's a fight for pay in Belvidere. Ventra Belvidere employees want a raise. They've been without a contract since early February. United Auto Workers, or UAW, representatives are currently negotiating with Ventra Belvidere administrators.

"Nobody should work 40 hours a week and come home and have to be on public assistance." -says Chrysler Corporation employee and UAW member John Gedney.

UAW members working at Ventra Belvidere took a vote. They could strike if they don't like the bargaining outcome. Seven-year Ventra Belvidere employee Rebecca Villarreal wants to finally achieve middle-class status and provide more for her family with higher pay.

"You come here, work 10 hours a day, you leave, go home, your daughter asks for something and you can't give it to her because you don't have the money to do it." -she says.

Ventra Belvidere administrators say they have no comment on Tuesday's protest or current contract negotiations. Flex-N-Gate's spokesperson Jim Woodcock provided us with the following statement...

"Flex-N-Gate associates receive competitive wages, enjoy quality growth opportunities and benefit from our ongoing commitment to safe working conditions. The vast majority of Flex-N-Gate associates are happy with their employment."

Woodcock has not responded to inquiries about safety violations at Flex-N-Gate's Urbana facility.

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