Ask IKEA: What’s Swedish for unionbusting?

IKEA logoI’m a big fan of IKEA. They sell cool, affordable furniture and teach me a few Swedish words whenever I go to their stores. They’ve also made it their mission to be a responsible, innovative company that takes care of its workers. In Sweden, where almost all of IKEA’s workers are in unions, we’ve seen that mission fulfilled. The workers there earn about $19 an hour minimum and get five weeks of paid vacation.

So it’s incredibly disappointing to find out that those high standards aren’t true for their U.S. employees too.

At an IKEA subsidiary factory in Danville, Virginia, workers report they are facing pay cuts, mandatory overtime, racial discrimination, and dangerous conditions on the job.
The workers want to organize as a union in order to gain a voice on the job and stop the mistreatment. But instead of respecting its workers’ right to form a union like IKEA does in Sweden, IKEA’s subsidiary in Virginia hired unionbusting consultants and discouraged union membership in mandatory employee meetings. And, worst of all, workers who support forming a union have now been fired!

It’s completely outrageous — and it needs to stop. Fortunately there is something you can do today. Write a letter to IKEA’s CEO and tell him to stop the intimidation and to let the U.S. workers have a fair shot to join a union! While we appreciate Ikea’s mission of corporate social responsibility, IKEA’s actions in its U.S. factory speak louder than words.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 2:22 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Ask IKEA: What’s Swedish for unionbusting?”

  1. Sean P Connolly says:

    You would want democracy in your government; why don’t you want it in your workplace?

  2. Andrew Large says:

    This really shows where America ranks in the world- when slimy European corporations want to evade moral labor relations, they run to America. Like American companies run to the Philippines.

    U.S.A. #1?

  3. Bill says:

    You didn’t mention that the maximum tax rate in Sweden is a bit over 70%!!!!

  4. Gayle says:

    No, Sean, we do NOT want Democracy. We WERE a Republic and would like to be one again. The Founders LOATHED democracy, which they very rightly viewed as Mob Rule. Kinda like Unions.

    FORCING people to take lower paying jobs? Really? How exactly is one FORCED to take a job? Does IKEA send goons to drag these people off to work from their homes? If IKEA isn’t paying a competitive wage… go work somewhere else! If you can’t get a better paying job somewhere else – either you expect too much OR you don’t have the skills needed to get one. How hard is that to understand?

    Those evil corporations…. they invest all the money, all the risk, create the jobs, offer the benefits, offer the opportunity to support your home and family… how DARE they!!??? SO OFFENSIVE!

    If you don’t like it… YOU take the risk, YOU spend the money, YOU make something out of nothing but a dream and your talent and effort. And then, when you have had the temerity to be successful and make some of that horrid, evil, immoral PROFIT, start your own Union and give it ALL to YOUR employees if you wish.

  5. Jeff says:

    In reply to Gayle:

    Your assertion that the founders “loathed democracy” is an oversimplification, trite, and betrays either an insufficient understanding of the distinction between a democracy and a republic or an intentional distortion to demonize unions.

    Implicit in your statement is that the founders did not intend to establish a system of popular governance and feared popular rule. While defining what the founders thought about anything is fraught with difficulties – not the least of which is, for example, distinguishing who was and who was not a founding father – there is a clear record of what several of the most influential thinkers of the era thought about the matter in The Federalist Papers.

    The authors of the Federalist Papers recognized that popular governance presents a challenge that is present in both direct democracies and representative republics. Specifically, “factions,” described as “a mortal disease” of popular government, were feared because of the power of “factions” (whether comprising a majority or minority) to act in a manner injurious to individuals and common interests.

    Two absolute remedies to the problems posed by factions were identified and rejected. First, the destruction of liberty itself. Second, the forced homogenization of opinion.

    Since direct democracy is practical only on a small scale, the solution was a large republic through which popular will would be filtered through elected representatives. However, a republic is no fail-safe and men of factious temper having been elected could betray the interests of the people.

    Which is where we find ourselves today. Powerful and rich corporations with legal protections unimaginable at the founding form a faction that has usurped and inverted popular governance. The corporate state now serves to preserve wealth at the expense of men and women who powerless as individuals to effect change.

    Corporations are the representative entity of individual investors. Unions are the representative entity of individuals. Why should investors be permitted to form protective entities and workers not?

  6. amanda wyles says:

    If you dislike legislation and wage capping in the workplace so much, then get up of your a**e and do something else. Shop around for a new occupation or start a new venture. Put your energy into being constructive as opposed to whinging.

  7. mike says:

    I never did like those dam Sweds

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