UPDATE: From The Hotline, July, 2014 - Workers at the IKEA store in Richmond BC, members of Teamsters Local 213, have been locked out by their global employer for more than 14 months now as the company boasts record profits in 2013 of more than $5 billion (Cdn) from their 298 stores in 26 countries.
It’s been described as a “David and Goliath” struggle that involves union-busting law firms and anti-union organizations pitted against workers who are fighting against a discriminatory two-tier wage system, cuts to part-time worker’s hours and benefits eligibility and a culture of bullying by management that has plagued their workplace (there have been five different store managers at this workplace in the past six years).
The 350 members of Teamsters Local 213 have also seen 38 of their own members cross the picket line and continue to work while the store remains partially open and being run by management during the lock-out.
Considered the “flagship” store in Canada when it comes to setting the wage and benefit packages for workers at their 10 other non-union stores across Canada, it’s been reported that IKEA uses this tactic in an effort to prevent workers at it’s other Canadian non-union stores from seeking union representation, essentially “giving the workers the union package – without the union”.
IKEA stores in Canada: Richmond, BC • Coquitlam, BC • Calgary, AB • Edmonton, AB • Winnipeg, MB • Ottawa, ON • North York, ON • Burlington, ON • Vaughn, ON • Etobicoke, ON • Montreal, PQ (UNIONIZED) • Boucherville, PQ
But the locked out workers have been steadfast in their resolve and buoyed by the support from both members of the public who respect the picket line and do not shop at IKEA, and from the members of many other local unions who attend the picket line at the Richmond location on a regular basis and who also support the information picket at the Coquitlam store and DO NOT SHOP AT IKEA.
Locked out since May, 2013
Workers at the Richmond store have been represented by Teamsters Local 213 for almost 30 years and have a history of mutual cooperation and labour peace with this employer. But cracks in the relationship started to show after a strike in 2007 that saw the store closed for three weeks. Since then, there are reports the working conditions have deteriorated and claims of bullying and harassment by management targeted at various members of the racially-integrated workforce that includes many women have surfaced.
When negotiations for a new collective agreement began in January 2013, IKEA’s proposal included a two-tier wage system where new workers would be paid $2 to $7 an hour less. The employer also proposed lower wages and wage caps for current workers, and restrictions on part-time workers affecting their eligibility for benefits. Workers voted against this contract in March, 2013 and on May 13, IKEA locked them out.
Since then, the BC Labour Relations Board has ordered IKEA to cease and desist using managers as replacement workers (scabs) and to stop using outside security in the store.
Workers at the Richmond IKEA store are now calling for a boycott of all IKEA stores across Canada, and although the boycott isn’t official, information picket lines have appeared outside IKEA stores in Ottawa, Toronto and Burlington in Ontario with labour activists from a number of unions showing their support.
While the union is ready to return to the bargaining table, contract talks remain frozen as IKEA refuses to negotiate a fair collective agreement. Until these workers get a fair agreement: do not shop at IKEA.
UPDATE: MARCH 12, 2014 - The lockout of Teamsters Local 213 members at Ikea in Richmond continues. As the lockout approaches its tenth month, the union continues to fight for a fair deal for its members and against concessions and a two-tier agreement.
On Sunday, March 16, 2014, at noon, the Vancouver & District Labour Council will send a delegation to visit the picket line and bring coffee and snacks to the picketers as a gesture of ongoing solidarity. Please join us if you can.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
3320 Jacombs Rd.
Bring your union signs or flags.
Feel free to invite others to join our delegation.
If you are unable to attend on that particular date and time please note that the picket line is currently active 24/7 and support is always welcome. Please remember whenever visiting the picket line that this is the Teamsters' dispute, so in providing solidarity we should ensure that we follow their direction with regards to picket line conduct.
Vancouver & District Labour Council
June 23, 2013 - BC’s labour movement is showing support for locked out workers at IKEA as the BC Federation of Labour is asking union members to NOT PATRONIZE either the Richmond or Coquitlam stores.
More than 300 workers at Richmond’s IKEA store, represented by Teamsters Local 213, have been locked out by their employer since May 13 after they rejected a third contract offer. The store is currently open and operating under reduced hours
On June 5, Teamsters Canada reported the Swedish furniture giant’s attempt to bring in replacement workers (scabs) failed as a result of a decision by the BC Labour Relations Board where Ikea was found guilty of bringing in out of province workers, using workers hired after notice to bargain was given and using third party contracted workers to keep the store open during a dispute.
According to an article published on-line at The Tyee, Teamsters 213 Business Agent Anita Dawson said, "The company wants us to come back under the terms of their new contract offer. We are willing to resume work under the terms of our old contract with only a few small changes while we bargain, but not under the new and reduced terms of Ikea's offer," she said. "They are trying to bully our members back to work under worse conditions, and it isn't going to succeed."
Some of that "bullying," Dawson said, includes what she called "backwards bargaining," the company's announcement that the longer the dispute continues, the more of its offer will be taken off the table. Already on June 3 some elements of the company's offer were removed, including a $500 signing bonus for employees. The company has also threatened to implement a maximum yearly cap for prescriptions and reduce paramedical coverage, such as currently unlimited payment for chiropractic treatments.
"Ikea is offering a reduced contract, including a tiered wage system which will see some existing employees getting reduced wages and benefits. The company is also trying to force concessions in hours of work, allowances, benefits and work classifications on its workers, and that's simply not on," Dawson said.
The Teamster spokeswoman said that Ikea's "bullying" had included multiple harassing calls to her members. The company, she said, is showing "outrageous behaviour by an employer which is determined to underpay its employees and force its will on the union."
In its letter to Ranking Officers, the BC Federation of Labour has asked supporters to not patronize either IKEA store in Richmond or Coquitlam as both stores have the same owners.
According to UPI.com, IKEA has made founder Ingvar Kamprad, 87, the world’s fifth-richest man, with an estimated worth of $52.7 billion.
For more information, visit the Teamsters 213 Facebook page.