| Saturday April 19th 2014

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Sweden exports sweatshops: Ikea’s first American factory


Midnight at the glassworksWorld-beating tax-cheats Ikea have a reputation for being a great employer in Sweden; but in America, their first factory is a model sweatshop, with rock-bottom wages, mandatory overtime, abusive vacation policies, and forced reeducation meetings for employees who support forming a union:

Some of the Virginia plant’s 335 workers are trying to form a union. The International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said a majority of eligible employees had signed cards expressing interest.In response, the factory — part of Ikea’s manufacturing subsidiary, Swedwood — hired the law firm Jackson Lewis, which has made its reputation keeping unions out of companies. Workers said Swedwood officials required employees to attend meetings at which management discouraged union membership…

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.


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