Workers unionize at U.S. IKEA manufacturing plant

Unionization campaign at Swedwood was a huge success partly due to the solidarity of other workers across the globe.

Danville (3 August 2011) - Workers IKEA's only U.S. manufacturing plant have voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and affiliate of the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI).  A strong majority, 221 workers (76%), voted for the union with only 69 against.

“This victory is the result of the courageous actions taken by Swedwood workers in the face of substantial employer intimidation which is far too common today,” said IAMAW International President Tom Buffenbarger.

“A large number of unions and organizations joined this struggle to help Swedwood workers win their fight for justice. That is what solidarity is all about.”

Hard fought campaign

Workers at the plant, which makes wooden furniture for IKEA, started complaining about racial discrimination and safety violations at Swedwood more than a year ago. They turned to the machinists union in hopes of improving their workplace.

But Swedwood wouldn't allow union organizers to come in and speak with their employees. In fact, despite IKEA's pro-union reputation in Europe, they hired a notorious union-busting law firm to consult for the company and hold captive audience meetings to intimidate workers.

The unionization campaign at Swedwood was a huge success partly due to the solidarity of other workers across the globe.  Workers in Europe and as far away as Kuala Lumpur showed their support for IKEA/Swedwood workers in Danville, VA, in their effort to join the Machinists Union.

More than 84,000 supporters sign a petition demanding a fair election without company interference, and a full page ad was printed in the local newspaper with all those signatures letting the workers know they had support.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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