Swedish Companies Take Advantage of Cheap Labor in U.S.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Ikea Factory in Danville, Virginia (photo: Steve Sheppard, AP)
As far as some companies in Sweden are concerned, America is the land of corporate opportunity—and worker exploitation. So why not take advantage of a business culture that seeks every chance to increase profits at the expense of U.S. employees.
In Virginia, furniture giant Ikea set up a manufacturing plant after it convinced the town of Danville to provide $12 million in tax breaks. It then brought in a “union-busting outfit to keep the IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) from making a run at the employees,” writes David Macaray at Huffington Post.
Ikea also cut employee wages and changed work and overtime rules.
“Needless to say, these measures not only would have been frowned upon by Swedish society, they would've been illegal,” adds Macaray. “They would have been in violation of Sweden's federal labor laws.”
In July 2011, the Danville Ikea workers did vote to unionize.
A similar problem arose in Kentucky, where AAK (AahusKarishamn) purchased an oils and fats processing plant in Louisville from Golden Brands. Shortly after taking over, AAK tried to force workers to decertify their union. The employees refused. Then management tried to arm-twist workers into accepting a new contract that wasn’t to their advantage.
German companies have also taken advantage of non-unionized U.S. states. In Germany the average hourly wage for auto workers is $67.14. However, employees at the new Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, earn $14.50 an hour and those at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina get $15 an hour.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Nordic Whoring (by David Macaray, Huffington Post)

IKEA Workers Build Solidarity, Vote for Machinists (by Mike Hall, AFL-CIO) 


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