Danville, VA. Workers At IKEA Pushing For A Union
Workers at a large IKEA wooden furniture factory in Danville, Virginia are pushing for a union to get better wages and working conditions from the Swedish company. The group change.org has organized a petition to support the American factory workers who carve out large profits for the company that pays the sawdust wages.
According to change.org, IKEA's factory workers in Sweden are paid $19 per hour and get five weeks of paid vacation every year. In IKEA's Swedwood plant in Danville, Virginia the workers are dealing with the most dangerous plant in the wood furniture industry. Workers there have suffered more than 1,536 days of lost work due to accidents on the job in a 30-month period.
According to the Los Angeles Times, IKEA's Danville workers are paid as little as $8 an hour and face racial discrimination from their managers. Workers often find out on Friday night that they'll be forced to work for the entire weekend -- and if they can't make it, they face disciplinary action.
In Sweden, IKEA's factory workers are unionized, which is one reason they receive better wages and have a safer workplace -- but the company is going all out to prevent American workers from receiving those same rights and protections.
The workers in Danville have filed for an election to start a union of their own -- the election could come as soon as six weeks from now. But rather than pay its workers fair wages, Swedwood has hired the notorious union-busting firm Jackson Lewis to hold mandatory "captive audience meetings" with the Danville workers. At these meetings, the Jackson Lewis associates inundate the workers with anti-union propaganda and veiled threats that are backed up with random firings.
The publicity surrounding this organizing drive has already made a difference -- last month, Swedwood announced that Danville workers would no longer be forced to work mandatory overtime. But Liz Cattaneo of American Rights at Work stresses that continued public pressure is extremely important: "If IKEA thinks the public isn't paying attention, they're going to play hardball ... throughout the election process -- which could mean more firings and more union busting."
What you can do: Now that the workers have filed for a union election, you can bet IKEA will redouble its efforts to squash their rights. They need our support now more than ever. Readers are urged to sign the petition at the link below to tell IKEA's head of Corporate PR that we are paying attention, and we expect IKEA to treat its American workers just as well as its Swedish workers: