I’m a bit late to this story, but, if you missed it, the LA Times had a superb article about how IKEA treats and pays workers at its U.S. facilities much worse than at its Swedish factories:
Workers complain of eliminated raises, a frenzied pace and mandatory overtime. Several said it’s common to find out on Friday evening that they’ll have to pull a weekend shift, with disciplinary action for those who can’t or don’t show up….
Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.
What’s more, as many as one-third of the workers at the Danville plant have been drawn from local temporary-staffing agencies. These workers receive even lower wages and no benefits, employees said.
And the explanation given for the difference should make your blood boil (italics mine):
Swedwood’s Steen said the company is reducing the number of temps, but she acknowledged the pay gap between factories in Europe and the U.S. “That is related to the standard of living and general conditions in the different countries,” Steen said.
Bill Street, who has tried to organize the Danville workers for the machinists union, said Ikea was taking advantage of the weaker protections afforded to U.S. workers.
“It’s ironic that Ikea looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico,” Street said.
Where the hell are the America Firsters when you need them?
And the Commonwealth of Virginia and local governments paid $12 million to bring IKEA’s factory into a region where the average wage is around sixteen dollars per hour. (The $12 million would cover two years of wages at the current salary). I’m sure that’s what they were expecting (in Sweden, IKEA workers are paid a minimum of nineteen dollars an hour). Not eight dollars an hour, sometimes with no benefits. To boot, IKEA is also being charged with discrimination against African-American employees.
Don’t shop at IKEA until they raise wages and stop busting unions. Then tell your representative to support EFCA (card check) legislation (anybody remember that Obama campaign promise?) and the repeal of Taft-Hartley.