BWI: IKEA Articles Blog – September 15, 2011


Posted by BWI Company Monitor


September 15, 2011:  Swedwood Danville has again filed a position without positing it.  By not positing it they prevent anyone qualified from applying.  This generates the risk that workers who are protected against discrimination by US law may file a claim against Swedwood.  In such cases it becomes far more difficult for Swedwood to defend itself since it filled a position without going through the normal positing process.  It is impossible for Swedwood to claim they hired the best available worker for the position since no one applied for it since no none knew a position was available.

There appears to be a trend that Swedwood posts jobs when the union raises the issue and then tries to sneak one in by by not posting it.  They have already on several occasions told workers about promotions before the job was posted.

Swedwood workers are convinced that the newly created supervisor job was designed for one worker and that is why it was never posted.


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Swedwood Follows Anti-Union law firm advise and Refuses to Bargain Changes

September 7, 2011:  The second week of an investigation at Swedwood by the National Labor Relations Board began today with additional interviews.  The Board is investigating whether or not Swedwood violated US law by: refusing to bargain changes put in place since the election, threatening union supporters following the election, and denying workers access to shop stewards during a disciplinary meeting.

It is rare that the Board actually issues charges because proving violations is very difficult.  The most common outcome is for the situation to result in a “he said” and “she said” scenario.  One party describes one set of behaviors and the other a different set of behaviors of the same situation.  This is evidence of the ineffectiveness of U.S. labour laws. 

However, what may be different this time is that since workers now have some protections because they are part of the Machinists Union, more of the workers may be willing to take the risk of telling the truth.  Even so it is still very scary to testify before the Board Agent and know that your employer will learn that you told the truth.  Sometimes it appears that even when the truth is told, it is not enough.

Swedwood has recently changed the line speed on the Pack line in order to speed up production.  U.S. law clearly states that all changes in working conditions must be bargained.  Instead of notifying the union it claims that since it used to change the line speed before the election it can change the line speed after the election.  It remains to be seen if the Board will recognize the difference between line speed changes that resulted from increased staffing and line speed changes that do not arise from increased staff.

The situation also applies to temporary workers.  Prior to the election Swedwood announced very publicly that they were ending their policy of using temporary workers.  Yet after the election they immediately resumed using temporary workers.  This is another change that should be bargained.

The fact that Swedwood’s anti-union attorney is advising Swedwood not to bargain these changes instead of respecting the election results and talking to the union is troubling.  The law firm is advising Swedwood to try to get away with everything they can. This suggests that bargaining will be very difficult and that Swedwood has no intention of honoring or respecting the wish of its workers to be represented by the IAMAW.  In every case the IAMAW has notified of Swedwood management of its desire to bargain the changes and in every case Swedwood’s anti union attorney has responded that they refuse.

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September 4, 2011:  After publication in this blog about a worker being denied a promotion as a result of the union election, Danville Swedwood management corrected the situation and gave the worker the promotion promised before the election.  However in the process of correcting that wrong they denied the promotion of another worker who was told that she would get the position instead of the union supporter.  The root cause of all of these problems is Danville Swedwood management’s inability to do open and transparent promotions.  Supervisors routinely tell workers in advance of announcing new jobs or promotions that they will get the position.  Sometime they do this to reward friends and sometimes they do it to demonstrate their power.  In all cases it is wrong.

The most recent example is of a  new hire named Will Adams.  The starting rate at Swedwood for the pack line is for most workers USD $8.50 an hour.  Mr. Adams started at USD$10.00 per hour.  Rumours spreading through the plant are that Mr.. Adams will be the  first Team Captain for the new line to start soon in MPS.  Whether or not Mr. Adams has unique qualifications to warrant the higher starting pay or whether or not he has unique skills that would make him a superior Team Captain is not the issue.  The issue is that it appears decisions by management have already been made that are prejudicial to existing workers who would also be superior Team Captains and who have greater knowledge derived from their experience on the job. 

Promotions must be transparent and based on knowledge, skills, and abilities, not a Supervisors preconceived notion of these or any other friendships that may exist.

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