As IKEA/Swedwood workers in Virginia voted to join a union today, more than 84,000 Change.org members were standing behind them.
In a historic union election, IKEA workers voted 221-69 in favor of joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). The union will now represent the employees at IKEA's only U.S. manufacturing plant.
Reports BWI, "The workers have voted for a union but clearly the struggle is not over as the next major hurdle for the workers is to negotiate a successful collective bargaining agreement that improves worker safety, promotes respectful treatment, and puts an end to favoritism and discrimination." Change.org members will continue to support Danville's workers as they negotiate a fair contract with Swedwood.
It wasn't an easy victory. IKEA is the world's second-largest retailer (behind Wal-mart), and is the world's largest home-furnishing retailer. Workers at the plant, which makes products like the EXPEDIT bookcase, started complaining about racial discrimination and safety violations at Swedwood more than a year ago, and they turned to the machinists union in hopes of improving their workplace. But Swedwood blocked attempts by union organizers to come in and speak with their employees. In fact, despite IKEA's pro-union reputation in Europe, they hired the notorious union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis to consult for the company and hold captive audience meetings to intimidate workers.
Today, Swedwood workers prevailed. That was, in part, because they knew so many of us were standing behind them. Not only did more than 84,000 supporters sign a petition demanding a fair election without company interference, we also ran a full page ad in the local newspaper with your signatures.
Congratulations to the workers at Swedwood. Thanks to your courage, you now have a voice at the table, the right to bargain as a group with management, and a real way to address your concerns at your workplace.