A three-year struggle for fairness ended in victory when workers at a Swedwood plant in Danville, VA – a right-to-work (for less) state – voted 221 to 69 to join the IAM. Swedwood is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swedish furniture giant IKEA.
The election win signals the beginning of negotiations with Swedwood to address the very serious problems that have denied these workers the dignity and respect to which they are entitled.
“This victory is the result of the courageous actions taken by Swedwood workers in the face of substantial employer intimidation which is far too common today,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “A large number of unions and organizations joined this struggle to help Swedwood workers win their fight for justice. That is what solidarity is all about.”
The organizing campaign included local community support and involved numerous IAM departments. “Every department in the IAM responded to the call for assistance,” said William Street, Director of the Woodworkers Department who worked on the campaign. “During the final weeks, we had representatives from practically every state in the Southern Territory, staff from the IAM Strategic Resources Department, Communications, and the William W. Winpisinger (WWW) Education and Technology Center – all coordinated by the Grand Lodge Organizing Department.”
The campaign also included two social justice organizations, American Rights at Work and Change.org. Together the organizations collected more than 100,000 signatures of IKEA shoppers letting IKEA know that the situation in Danville is unacceptable.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to certify the election within ten days, at which point the IAM can begin to bargain for a first contract.