Strike at IKEA store in Massachusetts

Workers at the Stoughton, Massachusetts IKEA store on November 16 held a one-day strike after IKEA management refused to recognize their union.

“Instead of doing what’s right, IKEA has chosen to fight hard-working employees,” said Chris DeAngelo, one of the striking workers. “That is wrong. All we want is the chance to earn a better life. We wish IKEA would honor its own policy and respect workers’ rights.”

The strike took place in the store’s Good Flow In Department, the department responsible for implementing IKEA’s business strategy of getting goods from suppliers to store shelves as quickly as possible.

As a result of the strike, newly arrived goods remained unloaded in trucks outside the store.

In a media release, the workers’ union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCU), said that the strike shut down normal store operations.

The strike began Monday morning at 2:00 A.M. when the workers walked off their jobs and began picketing the store.

The previous week, workers in the Good Flow In department presented a union authorization petition signed by 75 percent of the department’s 33 workers and requested that management recognize their union and bargain collectively.

At that point, IKEA could have acknowledged that an overwhelming majority of the department’s workers wanted a union and wanted to bargain collectively over wages and working conditions.

Instead, the company refused, sparking the strike,

IKEA, a company based in Sweden with stores and distribution centers all over the world, promotes itself as a socially responsible corporation committed to social and environmental justice.

IKEA’s internal code of conduct states that employees have the right join a union of their choice and bargain collectively, but IKEA management in Stoughton has actively worked to prevent workers from joining a union.

“The (strike action) highlights a failure to follow IKEA Group policies, which explicitly state support for the right of workers to bargain collectively and join a union of their choice in the company’s internal code of conduct,” said UFCW’s media statement.

IKEA’s anti-union actions began almost as soon as the workers began talking about forming a union.

In June, the National Labor Relations board charged IKEA with interfering with the Stoughton workers organizing attempts.

“My co-workers and I came together to make IKEA better because we love our jobs and we believe in the company’s values,” said IKEA worker Nancy Goetz in June after the NLRB charged IKEA. “In other countries, IKEA works collaboratively with the workers’ unions to solve problems. I never thought that IKEA would allow supervisors to intimidate and interrogate us. I expected more from IKEA. I expected that my rights would be respected.”

In October, the NLRB reached a settlement with IKEA that required the company to post information on the store’s premises informing workers of their right to join a union.

One of the grievances that led to the union organizing campaign is the lack of  job security at the store.

“I’ve been here for two years, and I’ve seen them fire a lot of people for no reason,” said Veronica Cabral to the Brockton Enterprise. “I want job security because I have a family to take care of.”

Workers consider the company’s arbitrary attendance policy that does little to recognize family and life commitments outside of work as the main culprit for the many unfair firings at the store.

Shawn Morrison told the Enterprise that minor violations of the attendance policy can easily mount up and lead to a worker being fined.

To make matters worse, a fired worker has no right to appeal the firing even if it is capricious and without merit.

The Stoughton IKEA workers are the first workers at an IKEA store in the US to join a union.

Workers at IKEA’s furniture plant in Danville, Virginia and at two IKEA distribution centers–one in Perryville, Maryland and the other in Savannah, Georgia–have joined the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Truthout reports that workers IKEA stores in College Park, Maryland and Seattle, Washington are also trying to form unions and that in response to these organizing drives, IKEA has hired Jackson Lewis, the most prominent union avoidance firm in the US.

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After one year, Ikea workers are still locked out

Ikea workers in Richmond, British Columbia on May 10 rallied to mark the one-year anniversary of their lockout.

Last year, the Ikea store in Richmond locked out its workers after 84 percent of Teamsters Local 213 members rejected the companies final offer that would have reduced benefits and wages and would have created a two-tiered wage system that would have resulted in lower wages for newly hired employees.

“I don’t think that there ever was an attempt (by Ikea) to reach an agreement here,” said Mike Levinson, a business representative for Local 213 at the rally. “It was all about teaching people here a lesson.”

Levinson said that he has been involved in negotiations in which businesses were struggling, and that in these cases, the union has worked with companies to help the business get back on track.

But that’s not the case with Ikea. “This company has no difficulties,” said Levinson. “It’s just looking for a fight. They thought you guys would cave in, but after a year, you’re still here.”

Levinson told the crowd that he just had returned from a Teamsters conference in the US where the main topic of discussion was the War on Workers that is being financed by billionaire right wingers, who want to turn back the clock on labor rights.

Levinson said that Ikea’s actions are similar to the actions of those in the US who want to bust unions. If that happens here, it won’t be just the workers at Ikea who will suffer, it will be all workers in British Columbia, he added.

Jeri Black, a 15-year Ikea Richmond employee echoed the same thought and added that the fight with Ikea is a fight for the future generation of workers.

If companies like Ikea can impose concessions on workers even when they’re making profits, then things will get much worse not only for us but for our children, said Black.

“If we don’t stick up for the next generation, it’s going to be District 13 (a reference to the movie Hunger Games),” she said. “You’re either going to be rich or you’re going to be poor. There won’t be any middle class.”

Anita Dawson, Local 213 business agent who has been negotiating with Ikea, said that Ikea’s tactics don’t reflect the social responsibilities values that Ikea claims to follow.

Would a company that believes in social responsibility force major concessions on its workers while it is making large profits? asked Dawson.

According to Dawson, some of the concessions that Ikea is trying to impose include a reduction in benefits eligibility and a new wage structure that will lengthen the time it takes for a worker to achieve the maximum wage rate.

Dawson also accused the company of coercion, intimidation, and spreading fear among its workers.

During the lock out, the company has hired a security company to conduct surveillance of strikers, has fired union members for activities on the picket line, and contacted union members directly in hopes of forcing them back to work.

Dawson said that the union had a good idea before the lock out began that the company would rather fight than negotiate.

“Would a good employer announce five days before the lock out that it would represent any employee who wanted to cross a picket line (and) that it would pay any union imposed fines for crossing the picket line,” said Dawson.

Dawson also accused Ikea of backwards bargaining–withdrawing bargaining proposals and replacing them with harsher terms if the workers would not accept concessions–and allying itself with Labor Watch, an anti-union group that works with employers to bust unions.

Despite the intimidation, fear, and coercion, most of the locked workers have refused to return to work and have rejected Ikea’s concession proposals four times.

“We’re willing to return to work,” Dawson said. “But we won’t accept concessions. We want to keep the same contract that we had before the lockout began.”

At the end of the rally, Dawson read a letter of support from Hassan Yussuff, the newly elected president of the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC), which represents 3.5 million Canadian workers.

In the letter, Yussuff said that the CLC would support the ongoing boycott of Ikea until the company drops it concession demands and bargains fairly with its workers.

Support for locked out IKEA workers “snowballs”

Dockworkers carrying banners reading “Dockworkers in solidarity with IKEA workers” rallied at ten global ports crucial to the IKEA supply chain.

The dockworkers were taking part in the December 17 solidarity actions organized by the International Transportation Federation (ITF) to support workers at the IKEA store in Richmond, British Columbia who have been locked out for seven months.

The locked out workers belong to Teamsters Local 213.

The first solidarity rally took place in Sydney, Australia where members of the Maritime Union of Australia gathered to show their support for their fellow union members in Canada.

A statement issued by the MUA said that, “The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is angered and disappointed by developments in Richmond, British Columbia.”

At the Sydney rally, MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin told the crowd that a fact-finding commission had found that IKEA in Richmond refused to bargain in good faith and has taken action suggesting that it wants to break the workers’ union. The report issued by the commission calls for IKEA to return to the bargaining table and bargain in good faith.

“We and our counterparts from around the world are gathering and demonstrating to put the case for a settlement that respects the needs, aspirations and strengths of IKEA workers,” said Crumlin.

Solidarity rallies also took place in Tokyo; Gothenburg, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Kristiansand, Norway; Aarhus, Denmark; Felixstowe, UK; Zeebrugge, Belgium;  Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Vancouver,  Canada.

In Canada, more than 100 union members from the ILWU, Teamsters, BC Federation of Labor, and other unions gathered at the Richmond IKEA store, then moved their demonstration to the docks of Vancouver.

In front of the Richmond store Grant Coleman of the Teamsters told the crowd that the international action against IKEA was a warning. We have global commitments to engage in sympathy actions at ports throughout the world that could disrupt IKEA’s supply chain, said Coleman.

“Things are snowballing,” said Local 213 member Keith Austin, who just returned from Sweden where he and other members of an international delegation publicized the Richmond IKEA lockout. “We’re supported by millions of unionized workers around the world.”

At the rally in front of the Richmond IKEA store, Gordan Adams, a member of ILWU Local 502, said that rank and file members of ILWU Locals 500 and 502 had raised $12,000 to support the locked out Teamsters.

After the rally at the store, the demonstrators moved to the Local 502 dispatch hall where Coleman told the ILWU members at the hall waiting for a shift change how much he and the Teamsters appreciated the support that the ILWU has given to the locked out IKEA workers.

He especially thanked Peter Lahay, of the ILWU who is also the ITF representative in Canada, for the effort he put into to organizing the international support for the IKEA workers.

Lahay called IKEA’s actions “inexcusable.”

“IKEA has put its workers on the street for seven months purely for retaliation,” said Lahay. “These workers exercised their legal right to vote down IKEA’s demands for a discriminatory wage system and cuts to family health care benefits. Now, IKEA is holding the workers hostage while they stand outside in the winter, at Christmas time.”

Rocky Thompson, business agent for Local 502, said he was proud of his union, which takes seriously the old union motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

“Today was one of the greatest days of my career as an officer of Local 502,” said Thompson. “The solidarity demonstrated by my local has definitely renewed my belief that there is strength in numbers.”

Thompson was especially proud of the rank-and-file members and casuals who donated money to the locked out workers. “You raised $12,000 for those workers,” said Thompson. “You should all be proud of yourselves, and be proud to be part of such a great organization. I know you all make me proud.”

In addition to the ILWU and MUA, dockworker unions that organized support rallies were the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, the Finnish  Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union, the  United Federation of Danish Workers (3F), Unite the Union, the Belgian Transport  Workers’ Union (BTB), ACV-CSC, Zenkoku-Kowan, and FNV Bondgenoten.

Solidarity rally kicks off international support for locked out IKEA workers

Despite threats from IKEA’s lawyers, members of Teamsters Local 213, who have been locked out by IKEA for six months, rallied on November 23 to demand a fair collective bargaining agreement. They were joined at the solidarity rally by hundreds of other trade union members.

The locked out workers work at the IKEA store in Richmond, Britsh Columbia. The rally, which took place across the street from an IKEA store in nearby Coquitlam, marked the beginning of a worldwide campaign to support the locked out workers.

The IKEA workers have been fighting to protect their wages and benefits. The company, on the other hand, has insisted that the workers accept pay and benefit cuts.

“We’re standing here in soldidarity with the IKEA workers,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labor as he addressed the crowd, which was packed tightly on a narrow strip of land across the street from the Coquitlam IKEA store.

Sinclair said that he received a letter from IKEA’s attorneys a week before the rally. “(IKEA’s attorneys)  said that if you have a rally here, we’ll sue you,” he said. “We say bring it on! In this country we have a right to speak our mind and we have a right to have a rally.”

Sinclair noted that the IKEA lawyers who sent the letter also work for an anti-union group called Labor Watch.

Sinclair thanked the other unions whose members came to the rally and have walked the picket line with Local 213 members and urged people to continue the IKEA boycott.

“This isn’t a fight about Teamsters, it’s a fight about working people,” said Sinclair.

Out in the crowd, supporters held banners from their different unions including ILWU Canada, UNITE HERE, UFCW, Construction and Specailzed Workers Union, and Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union.

Peter Lehay of ILWU Local 400 talked about the solidarity actions that are being organized to support the locked out IKEA workers.

Lehay, who is also the Canadian national coordinator for the International Transportation Federation (ITF), a global federation of unions in the transportation industry, said that ITF has been publicizing IKEA’s lockout of its Richmond workers.

“We’re going to make sure that the IKEA brand is known around the world for how it treats its workers,” said Lehay. “It seems like if you’re an IKEA worker in Sweden, you get treated pretty well, but the farther away from Sweden you get, the worse the treatment that workers receive.”

Lehay said that IKEA in Turkey has resisted efforts by its workers to join a union even though the workers voted in elections supervised by the government to unionize.

In France, IKEA executives have been arrested for bribing police to spy on IKEA workers.

In Russia, IKEA caved into homphobia and withdrew catalogues that included pictures of a gay couple.

Lehay also said that representatives of ITF and Uni Global, an international federation of retail workers unions, will be meeting with IKEA’s Swedish executives to discuss the lockout in Richmond.

Dorothy Thompkins, a 20-year IKEA employees, Local 213 shop steward, and bargaining committee member, told the crowd that the lockout began on May 13 after workers rejected IKEA’s offer for the third time.

“I can tell you that negotiations were about IKEA trying to clawback what they could and us trying to preserve what we have,” said Thomkins.

Early on in the negotiations, IKEA tried to get the workers to accept a two-tiered wage system, something that that the workers rejected in 2007 during the previous contract negotiation.

“We went on strike in 2007 to eliminate a two tiered wage structure, and we won,” said Thomkins.

But IKEA tried to reintroduce it again in 2013. A two-tiered wage structure is bad for new and old workers alike, said Thomkins, and we rejected it again this year.

IKEA has subsequently withdrawn its two tiered wage proposal but has insisted that workers accept a new pay progression system that extends for some workers the length of time it takes to reach maximum pay to 20 years.

The company also wants to base pay raises on production and sales goals that the IKEA alone sets.

IKEA says that its offer is generous and points out that some workers at the store make $18 an hour to $20 an hour, but Thomkins pointed ot that the average work week for IKEA  Richmond employees is only 19 hours.

“That’s not enough money to raise a family on,” she said.

As the rally wrapped up, Anita Dawson, Local 213′ business representative, said that the lockout at IKEA Richmond is the longest in the company’s history.

Dawson said that IKEA is hiding behind the concrete walls that it erected when the lockout began and keeps those walking the picket line under constant surveillance.

IKEA needs to come out from hiding behind its walls and bargain a fair contract with its workers, said Dawson. That’s the only way that this lockout ends.

International unions to organize support for locked out IKEA workers

After conducting a fact finding inquiry, a panel of international trade union representatives said that they would return home and organize support for more than 300 IKEA workers in Richmond, British Columbia locked out since May.

“We will do everything we can that’s in our power,” said Peter Lövkvist, secretary of the Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation to the The Tyee. “We’re not ruling anything out.”

The federation represents 400,000 union members in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

“It was a real honor to meet so many great brothers and sisters facing this lockout together with dignity and respect,” said Erin Der Maar, of the International Transport Workers Federations on the workers’ Facebook page. “. . .  we will be following up on this as soon as we get back to Europe.”

Members of the panel talked to workers on the picket line and to management inside the IKEA store.

They heard testimony from workers at a November 7 hearing. Company representatives were invited to attend and speak but declined.

At the hearing, Jim Sinclair, president of the British Columbia Federation of Labor, explained why it’s important that workers throughout the world take up the cause of the locked out IKEA workers, members of Teamsters Local 213.

At the start of negotiations, said Sinclair, IKEA demanded concessions that would have cut wages and benefits and implemented a two-tier wage system that would have affected new hires and workers with less than four years of service.

The company also wanted to cut benefits and make them harder to get for part-time employees.

IKEA demanded concessions as if it were losing money, but since the economy has turned around, the company has been doing well.

IKEA has also engaged in union busting activity and intimidation, said Sinclair. The company passed out anti-union disinformation from a Canadian anti-union group that works to decertify unions, called union members at home to urge them return to work, and tried to use strike breakers.

Sinclair said that if workers let IKEA impose concessions while it is making money and get away with its union busting, these actions will set a dangerous precedent and encourage other companies throughout the world to do the same.

The lockout began after Teamster members rejected IKEA’s concessionary contract proposal three times.

Before workers voted on May 9 for the third time, IKEA threatened to lock them out if they rejected the company’s final offer, but the workers rejected it anyway.

The next day IKEA locked them out.

IKEA offered to lift the lockout if the workers would return work under the terms of the rejected  contract.

The workers said no again.

In August, IKEA dropped its demand for a two-tier wage system but made a new proposal tying wage increases to achieving productivity and sales goals unilaterally set by the company. Under the new proposal, it could in some instances take 20 years to reach the maximum wage rate.

The union had originally proposed a six-year period to reach the maximum wage.

During the November 7 testimony, workers described how things have changed at the Richmond IKEA store.

When the store originally opened in the 1990s, store management seemed to buy into the so-called IKEA value system that encourages respect for customers and  workers who serve customers.

But now said Marc Caron, an IKEA values trainer and 21-year employee, “IKEA is more concerned about the bottom line.”

Caron gave an example about how work at IKEA had changed. Before the lockout, Caron and another worker were talking when they were approached by a supervisor. They asked the supervisor about a new scheduling policy that made it difficult for workers to balance their work and life outside of work.

“The supervisor responded that ‘it’s not about work life balance anymore here’,” said Caron. “‘The work schedule is going to stay the same. If you don’t like it, there’s the door’.”

Keith Austin, a 27-year IKEA worker, said that the problems at IKEA in Richmond began in 2003 when IKEA built another store too close to the original store.

“IKEA became problematic in the 2003 when it opened another store in Coquitlam,” said Austin. About 40 percent of the Richmond customers started shopping at the Coquitlam store.

Once the Richmond store starting losing customers, it had a harder time meeting the production goals set at IKEA headquarters.

That’s when IKEA in Richmond started drifting away from its original values.

Austin said that building the store so close to the Richmond was a big mistake. The rule of thumb is that stores operated by the same company should be at least 60 kilometers from each other. The store in Colquitlam was 23 kilometers away from Richmond.

“IKEA made a strategic mistake in locating the store in Colquitlam, now they want workers to pay for their mistake,” said Austin.

Austin said that if IKEA forces concessions this time, they’ll ask for more concessions in the future.

Tim Beaty, director of global strategies for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, told the panel that IKEA labor relations are deteriorating in other parts of the world.

He pointed to Turkey where IKEA has resisted recognizing the workers’ union.

Beaty said the UNI Global Union, an international confederation of unions in the retail and wholesale trades, had surveyed IKEA union members throughout the world.

The results of the survey show that union members in northern Europe were satisfied with their relationship with IKEA, but  workers further away from the IKEA center were much less satisfied.

Beatty said that its time to put an end to the erosion of labor relations at IKEA and that it would take international action.

Lövkvist said that panel members would complete a report on their findings in about a month. In the meantime, the unions would begin publicizing the lockout back home and would seek a meeting with IKEA executives in Sweden.

Depending on the results of the meeting, the unions, said Lövkvist, may take further action including refusing to handle IKEA goods. Nothing is off the table said Lövkvist.

Richmond IKEA workers told the panel that they were willing to continue their fight. “We’ve gone too far to back down now,” said Caron. “I’ll stand on this picket line as long as it takes.”

Canadian labor rallies to support locked out IKEA workers

Members of Teamsters Local 213 in British Columbia, Canada rallied on Saturday to support more than 300 IKEA workers in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond who have been locked out since May 13. They were joined by members of other Teamsters locals, Teamsters Canada, the BC Federation of Labor, other unions, and elected officials.

Meanwhile, the BC Federation of Labor has reiterated its call for union members throughout British Columbia to boycott the IKEA stores in Richmond and nearby Coquitlam. Both are owned by the same IKEA franchise holder.

Local 213 is resisting the company’s attempt to create a two-tiered wage system that would allow the company to pay new hires less money for the same work as current employees.

“Despite the Richmond (IKEA) location being highly profitable, management is seeking  to impose significant wage cuts on the majority of its workforce,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labor in a statement about the lockout. “Five years  ago, the Teamsters fought the tiered wage structure and won.”

“This was something that we had fought hard in 2007 to basically eliminate,” said Local 213 business representative Anita Dawson to the Globe and Mail. “So when they came to the table and tried to introduce it again – we’re not interested in fighting the same fight.”

In addition to seeking a two-tiered wage system IKEA wants to reduce benefits for part-time workers, who make up a significant share of the IKEA workforce, contract out work, and reduce part-timers working hours.

Union members have said that the lockout and IKEA’s insistence on concessions at a time when the company is highly profitable strongly suggests that the company’s real agenda is to bust the union.

The company told the Globe and Mail that union busting is not part of its agenda.

The two sides returned to the negotiating table last week. Talks to end the walkout are being assisted by a mediator.

Union members at IKEA have opposed the two-tiered wage system because it undermines solidarity, which in turn puts at risk all the other gains that union members have won through their collective efforts.

In a recent statement about the lockout and boycott, Jim Sinclair explained what is at stake for union members throughout British Columbia.

“Tiered wage structures such as the one proposed by IKEA poison work sites, creating resentment between co-workers,” said Sinclair. “Moreover, they contribute to the part-timing of work, as management seeks to take advantage of new, lower wage categories.”

Local 213 members have fought hard to prevent the company from taking advantage of part-time labor. Unlike most part-timers in the US, part-time workers at the IKEA store in Richmond receive benefits in addition to their wages.

Those who work between 15 and 19 hours receive 80 percent of the company’s benefits. Those working 20 hours or more receive full benefits.

IKEA is proposing to raise the number of hours required to receive the full benefit to 24.

Despite being locked out for more than 70 days, the more than 300 Teamsters at the IKEA store have maintained their solidarity.

However, 27 have returned to work, and union members recently voted to expel them from the union.

IKEA has used management staff and others to keep the store open, but hours of operation have been reduced, and some of the services that other IKEA stores provide have been shut down.

The Vancouver Sun reports that the lockout has closed Smaland, the children’s play area, and the 600-seat store restaurant.

IKEA workers in Canada resist company’s bullying

In an attempt to bully workers into accepting concessions, IKEA in Richmond, British Columbia has locked out 350 members of Teamsters Local 213 who work at the store. The lockout began on May 13 after 84 percent of Local 213 members rejected the company’s contract offer, which included a two-tiered wage system that will reduce wages for new employees.

Current employees would have seen cuts as well. “IKEA is offering a reduced contract including a tiered wage system which will see some existing employees getting reduced wages and benefits,” said Anita Dawson, Local 213’s business representative and a former IKEA worker. ” The company is also trying to force concessions in hours of work, allowances, benefits, and work classifications on its workers.”

Since the lockout began, IKEA has been putting pressure on workers to return to work under the terms of the contract that was overwhelmingly rejected in May. The Teamsters are willing to return to work but only under the terms of the recently expired contract.

“The company wants us to come back under the terms of their new contract offer,” said Dawson. “We are willing to resume work under the terms of our old contract with only a few small changes while we bargain, but not under the new and reduced terms of IKEA’s offer. They are trying to bully our members back to work under worse conditions, and it isn’t going to succeed.”

IKEA has told workers that if they don’t return to work under the terms of the rejected contract, the company will impose more concessions and that the concessions will grow steeper if the workers continue to stay off the job. On June 3, the company began carrying out its threat by eliminating a CAD$500 signing bonus from its original contract offer. Five days later, IKEA imposed a cap on payments for prescription drugs.

Dawson called IKEA’s attempt at intimidation “backward bargaining.”

Dawson said that IKEA’s bullying tactics have gone beyond imposing concessions on workers and have included harassing phone calls to union members.

IKEA has kept the Richmond store open with a skeleton staff, but has had to reduce hours of operation because of its limited staffing.

Near the beginning of the lockout, IKEA tried to hire replacement workers, but the province labor board ruled that the company’s attempt to do so violated the province’s labor law.

On June 24, Local 213 held a rally at another IKEA store about four hours away in Kelowna.

The rally was attended by Local 213 members and supporters from other Teamster locals, the Canadian Union of Public Workers ( CUPW), the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association and other unions.

Speaking at the rally, Jim Sinclair, president of the British Columbia Federation of Labor, told the audience that more workers than just Local 213 members are affected by the IKEA lockout.

“The reason we are here today is because this is not about the Teamsters or IKEA,” said Sinclair. “It’s about the labor movement and what happens to working class people. A two-tiered wage system is a cancer in working class people. It makes us divided.”

Sinclair also said that IKEA’s demand for concessions and its bullying tactics is an attempt to weaken workers’ power and assert more control over workers.

“This company is filthy rich,” he said. “It makes billions of dollars a year. This is not about money, its about power. (IKEA) can afford to pay higher wages,” but refusing to do so is a way of asserting its power over its workers. If they can get away with this, other companies will try to do so as well.

Local 213 has called on its supporters to not shop at the IKEA Richmond store or the one in Kelowna.

“IKEA’s butting heads with the biggest union in North America and thought they could bully us,” said Dawson. “Well, they (are) wrong.”