Imagine being locked out by your employer for more than a year. The huge, multinational IKEA Corporation has done just that to the unionized workers at their Richmond store. A OneCity team visited the workers, members of Teamsters Local 213, on their picket line on Sunday morning, June 8. They gave us a warm and enthusiastic welcome.
We spent time listening to some of their stories. They shared with us their sincere disappointment with their employer and the tactics being utilized to undermine the rights of workers. They spoke about how important it is to remain strong in this struggle – not just for their own jobs but for the precedent that will be set for IKEA workers in other locations if they allow their benefits to be eroded.
IKEA is not a franchised company. The Richmond and Coquitlam IKEAs are both owned by the parent company, whose owners are among the wealthiest 100 families in the world.
The issue is the imposition of a tiered wage structure. Despite the Richmond location being highly profitable, management is seeking to impose significant wage cuts on the majority of its workforce by creating a lower wage scale for newer employees.
Tiered wage structures, such as the one proposed by IKEA, damage workplaces, creating resentment between co-workers. They contribute to the part-timing of work, as management seeks to take advantage of the new, lower wage categories.
The IKEA workers deserve our support. Don't shop at IKEA, and if you have the time, join them at their 24-hour picket line. They particularly mentioned their need for fresh drinking water and ice on hot days. It was clear to us that the solidarity of others means a lot to them and it’s important for the community to continue that support. One worker shared, when speaking about the profile of their struggle, that the longer this goes on for, the more people see them as "part of the scenery". Let’s work together to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
OneCity supports dignified jobs and living wages for workers.