Yesterday, a large group of workers at an IKEA store in Massachusetts told the company they want to unionize. IKEA’s response so far? Nothing.
First, some background: while IKEA enjoys a reputation as a generally progressive and forward-thinking company, its record on labor relations is not completely sunny. It’s been the target of labor strikes in Europe, and unions in America have made complaints to the NLRB that IKEA illegally harassed workers here for trying to unionize. The company also employs the law firm Jackson Lewis, which specializes in helping companies fight against their own workers on labor issues.
Yesterday, overnight warehouse workers at the IKEA store in Stoughton, Massachusetts submitted a letter signed by three quarters of employees telling the store that they want to join the UFCW, and asking the company to voluntarily recognize them as a union. In their letter, the workers say that they “love working at IKEA,” and that “We believe that a union is the best way to work together to live our values and build an even better IKEA.” Already, Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have made public statements of support for the workers’ unionization effort, and urged the company to recognize the union without further delay.
At this point, the company faces a very simple choice. It has been presented with evidence that a large majority of these workers want a union. The decent thing to do is to recognize the union and begin negotiating with it in good faith. IKEA has many unionized retail workers around the world, but this would be the first retail store in the U.S. to unionize.
Or, the company can pay a lot of money to its anti-union law firm—money that could be used to, for example, boost worker salaries—and fight the effort to unionize. This choice, in essence, would represent a corporate decision by IKEA to go to war with its own employees.
So far, the union has not gotten an official reply from IKEA. We contacted IKEA, but our call has not been returned. The company has responded to questions on Twitter by referring to its standard statement of “Co-worker principles.”
It would be much easier to simply call off the attack dog lawyers and recognize the union. There is no excuse not to. No excuse.
[Photo via UFCW]