On 17 July 2012, IKEA workers at a Distribution Center in Savannah Georgia voted overwhelming to be represented by the IAMAW. With only 3 no votes out of 57 cast, the margin of victory was 93%. IKEA continues to refuse to sign an agreement clearly defining which employer election behaviors are acceptable and which are not. This lack of clarity throughout the IKEA management structure resulted in supervisors telling workers they did not have to join the union and using their location inside an industrial park as an excuse to deny employees the opportunity to meet with union staff to learn about their ILO rights in a North American context.
The issues that lead to this election outcome included: favoritism in promotions, assignment, and shifts, as well as job security issues in terms of legal due process and just cause, both items not provided to workers who do not have a union contract.
According to Thomas Mayfield, IAMAW organizer, “ this campaign was about dignity and respect on the job. These workers were being forced to work long hours in dangerous situations. Many of their supervisors acted more like feudal lords than supervisors contributing to unequal treatment and issues of fairness. Even though IKEA is making billions of dollars, it appears as if their slogan of “the greatest good for the many” clearly excludes those who make and delivery IKEA products.”
Bargaining for a first collective agreement will commence shortly. Initial indications are that IKEA has retained the anti-union law firm Jackson Lewis for legal advice and to head up their negotiations. This always causes bargaining to be more divisive and more expensive then when company’s rely on law firms who specialize in labor relations from a less dogmatic and anti-union perspective. The use of anti-union law firms makes finding natural win-win situations very difficult.