During the past two weeks, the IAM’s organizing campaign at Swedwood USA, an IKEA subsidiary in Danville VA, has received extensive media coverage in IKEA’s home country of Sweden. The coverage included a feature story in a large monthly magazine and numerous stories in some of Sweden’s largest daily papers, as well as a 15-minute feature on Swedish TV’s most watched news program.
The stories highlighted the IAM’s struggle to create safe working conditions at Swedwood and end harassment of workers who are seeking to join the IAM.
IKEA has a Global Framework Agreement with BWI, the international union federation for builders and woodworkers. This agreement calls on IKEA to assist in the formation of unions at its locations around the world.
The president of one of the largest Swedish labor unions, GS, has appeared on TV and in the print media calling on IKEA to honor their global agreement with BWI.
While a significant number of Swedwood workers have signed authorization cards for the IAM, many more are intimidated by harsh supervisors and a ruthless willingness to terminate workers without cause or warning.
“The work culture in Danville is very harsh and among the worst I have seen in the U.S.,” said IAM Woodworkers Department Director Bill Street. “Lock out/Tag out regulations are rarely followed and a growing number of workers have been fired for being injured on the job. The attitude of local management is that the equipment is far more valuable than the workers.”