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Workers, residents ask NFL’s Roger Goodell to investigate Shahid Khan, billionaire owner of Jacksonville Jaguars

Chemical accident and spills at Khan’s auto parts plants raise concerns; coalition says both factory workers and football players deserve safe working conditions

New York:  Following a Draft Day protest about the business practices of Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan, workers from his company and residents who live near one of his plants delivered a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the league’s Manhattan headquarters. The letter asks Goodell to investigate allegations related to Khan’s business practices and determine whether the billionaire’s conduct is detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football.

Khan, the league’s newest owner, bought the Jaguars for $760 million last November, using a fortune he acquired as CEO of Flex-N-Gate.  Khan’s firm has grown to become the 15th largest automotive supplier in North America, largely based on the production of chrome-plated truck bumpers. The chemical that gives bumpers their shine is hexavalent chromium, the same cancer-causing chemical made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich.

Responding to environmental, safety and labor concerns at Flex-N-Gate plants, workers and community residents held a press briefing outside the NFL’s Draft Day Pop-Up Store on 6th Ave. and 42nd Street today, then marched to NFL headquarters on Third Avenue to deliver a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  

“We applaud you for making health and safety a priority for both current and former NFL players,” said the letter, signed by a delegation of workers and community residents from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.  “Just as every NFL player deserves safe working conditions, so do the workers at Flex-N-Gate, the company at which Mr. Khan made the fortune that allowed him the privilege of owning an NFL team.” 

The letter cites several concerns about Khan’s auto parts operations:


  • Flex-N-Gate was cited for 39 violations of hazardous waste regulations over 20 years at Chrome Craft, a closed bumper plant in Highland Park. 
  • Former Chrome Craft workers and neighborhood residents say they have witnessed dumping of hazardous wastes, potentially contaminating the neighborhood behind the plant with hexavalent chromium.
  • Workers at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Urbana, IL filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging exposure to hazardous chemicals.
  • Workers at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Veedersburg, IL, recently filed a similar complaint after a chemical accident sent two workers to the hospital.

“If an NFL player was involved in an off-the-field incident which sent two people to the hospital, I’m sure the league would investigate,” said Pastor D. Alexander Bullock, Senior Pastor of Greater St. Mathew Baptist Church and the Michigan State Coordinator for Operation PUSH. Pastor Bullock’s church is blocks away from Khan’s closed Chrome Craft plant in Highland Park. “NFL owners, no less than players, should be held to the highest standards of ethical conduct.”

“The NFL says people look to it as a leader, and that’s correct,” said Cindy Estrada, who directs the union’s Independents, Parts and Suppliers Department.  “We need to make sure that the league’s owners are role models, too, when it comes to how they treat workers, communities, and the environment.”


The full text of the letter to Roger Goodell is available at or  Participating labor and community organizations include:  Green Door Initiative; Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church; NAACP- Highland Park Branch; NAACP – Detroit Branch; International Union, UAW; Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – Detroit Chapter; Community Action and Response Against Toxics; Masjid Al-Nur Mosque; Sierra Club, Detroit Office.