By Mike Hall
Jul 28, 2011
For two years, management at IKEA’s Danville, Va., subsidiary Swedwood fought the workers’ choice to join the Machinists (IAM). But after yesterday’s overwhelming 221-69 vote, the workers who assemble furniture for IKEA stores have that voice at work.
Coretta Giles says working conditions—especially heat inside the plant—and low wages are two of the biggest issues she wants resolved. She told the Danville Register and Bee she voted for the IAM:
So we can have a voice. So we can all be heard and have another leg we can stand on when we need to.
The Danville plant is not air conditioned and, says Bill Street, director of the IAM’s Woodworking Department, is routinely 15 to 20 degrees hotter inside than outside. Working conditions on normal summer day are oppressive, but the recent heat waves have made it nearly unbearable, he says.
Also, while Ikea pays its Swedish workforce that does the same jobs about $19 an hour, along with five weeks of paid vacation, in Danville full time workers start at $ 8 hour. About third of the workers are from temp agencies and they make even less. While full-time workers receive 12 vacation days, management determines when eight of them must be taken. Says Street:
It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico. In this case, we’ve become Sweden’s Mexico.
Continue reading at: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/07/28/ikea-workers-build-solidarity-vote-for-machinists/