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Intro: "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."

Swedish furniture giant IKEA located a plant in union-averse Virginia, 08/10/10. (photo: AP)
Swedish furniture giant IKEA located a plant in union-averse Virginia, 08/10/10. (photo: AP)

Swedish Companies Take Advantage of Cheap Labor in US

By Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov

14 January 12


s 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)

For German Carmakers, U.S. Workers are a Bargain (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Swedish Multinational AAK Tries to Bust Kentucky Union (by Amy Masciola, AFL-CIO)

IKEA Workers Build Solidarity, Vote for Machinists (by Mike Hall, AFL-CIO) your social media marketing partner


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+28 # CandH 2012-01-14 10:04
So, maybe the article, as short as it is, should have gone into the "WHY" of the piece. Namely, why are people in Sweden/Germany not so easily pushed around via workers rights/wages/co nditions/etc; and alternatively in the US, people are? That would help the reader, and the 99%, get a sense of what it is exactly that we need to do in order to quell such exploitation of people in the, ahem, "greatest country in the world..."
+15 # Bill Clements 2012-01-14 12:53
Yes, your comment goes to the very nub of the issue!

We have a massive IKEA store here in the Pacific NW that I won't be shopping at any longer. The VW Jetta we drive is a bigger problem; no way of replacing that at the moment.
+13 # John Gill 2012-01-14 18:49
Yes, and the answer to that question would be, I suspect, that governments more bent in the direction of democratic socialism are less likely to find it so easy to sell out the worker. But on another line of thought, as to why would those nice Swedes do such a thing? It's not about countries at all..but about corporations,
+2 # Karlus58 2012-01-16 10:13
Hitting the nail square on the head, I'd say!
+4 # Karlus58 2012-01-16 10:18
The anbswer is ..... they've no allegiance whatsoever to any country nor government. They idolize profit at the expense of human dignity. They idolize profit as they turn off humanity. Thing is, the road they follow is a dead end for us all, including themselves, as the end finds no profit to extract from anyone or anything left at all.
+20 # corallady 2012-01-14 10:49
We are becoming an "owned" country just as our politicians are letting themselves become an "owned" legislative body. The land of the enslaved and the home of the owned--that's where we're headed. And our so-called leaders don't seem to care as long as they get what they want--power, power, power.
+13 # Bill Clements 2012-01-14 13:12
Thank Citizens United for giving corporations even more power over our legislators, workers, our environment, etc. It's really time this country begins a discussion on the destructive side of capitalism. Vulture capitalism is not a bad name.
+25 # Fraenkel.1 2012-01-14 11:43
USA seems to be one of he few "civilized" countries whose working class have been persuaded to vote against their interests. In part I blames the Republicans for doing all they can to destroy public education. Ironic that Sweden,the home of social and economic democracy (and they are so self righteous about it) is outsourcing their work into the lower paid world just as we do.
+9 # Bill Clements 2012-01-14 13:21
Yes, I'd love to hear those running IKEA rataionalize ( or make the attempt) their treatment of American workers.
+11 # maddave 2012-01-14 16:24
It's profits, Bill! All money. It's the same reason that Corporate America shipped all of our high paying jobs to China & other non-unionized, low-labor-cost countries!

Along this line . . . Are you aware that the Canadian Mounties are increasing their patrols along the CAN-US border in order to slow the rush of unemployed US citizens who are sneaking north in search of jobs . . . and that Mexicans are still swimming across the Rio Grand every night . . . going south?
+28 # Lolanne 2012-01-14 11:45
So let me get this straight: American companies are outsourcing OUR jobs to 3rd world countries to take advantage of cheap labor, while at the same time Sweden and Germany (and maybe others?) are "insourcing" jobs here for the same reason: cheap labor?
Is this "The Twilight Zone" or what?
+20 # NanFan 2012-01-14 11:57
Indeed, it could be the twilight we lingered in as we were blinded by the haze, the illusion that all was "just going about fine." And now...we know...we have felt that it is not.

And so, we become the enslaved who MUST work for whatever we can to survive. We have become our own India, our own Mexico, and it has just begun.
+8 # CandH 2012-01-14 19:29
Yes, the Great Recession has already started a new trend, called "insourcing." I heard a report on KPFA recently, that talked about it, starting with the company Caterpillar. They originally outsourced from the US some 15 years ago (I think?) to Ontario Canada because of lower medical care costs (socialized medicine,) but keeping the Canadian union model. Now, Caterpillar wants to move back to Indiana, USA where they can eviscerate the union mandate, and roll back all employee benefits correspondingly , whilst achieving a massive local/state tax break in the process.

See, lowest common denominator R us...
+14 # jwb110 2012-01-14 12:39
I have family in the South and spend time there. In this instance I think the South gets what it deserves. No region of the country so consistently votes against its own best interest. The majority of the TEA Party members are from Southern States and if this is the best they can do for their constituencies and those same people vote them in again then they get what they deserve.
As far as the Unions go they had better start organizing labor in the countries where outsourcing has gone. I am a member of two Unions and I cannot say that either are in touch with the real needs of working communities around the country. I feel that much of the leadership comes from the same culture of greed that Wall Street comes from.
+18 # wsh 2012-01-14 12:43
Hah!! IKEA = Nike....our chickens have come home to roost.

Anyone with a "Swoosh" on their foot has no right to complain...or if you shop at WallyMart, either. I could go on...and on...and on...
+20 # janesrsn 2012-01-14 13:11
Anytime we buy new products for cheap, we need to ask, "Who is getting ripped off so these products can be so cheap?" If you're okay with abusing people and the environment, well I guess there is nothing else to say...
+2 # CandH 2012-01-14 19:35
How about something simple, like the tomatoes that go on those tacos at Taco Bell? Slavery? In the US? Yes, Santa, there is Slavery in the US--http://www. /peace-justice/ immokalee
+2 # CL38 2012-01-14 23:33
So we don't buy IKEA!
+4 # ozken 2012-01-15 00:02
What a crazy world!
There was an interesting article on the Shah & Iran on RSN a few weeks back where it stated that the Shah for the sake of 'democracy'gave the population two 'choices' for every political seat. Both contenders were people picked by him of course. A bit like the USA -Republicans or Democrats - whoever you pick wont change things at all but don't you feel much better for having the choice? It's like that trick with the pea and three cups - whatever cup you pick thinking it has the pea in it - you lose. The deck is stacked.Time to pee on a politician?
+4 # WaldenPond 2012-01-15 15:38
Or throw shoes at them. Or, how about voting for 3rd parties in November. Any third party that is not DemPublican.
0 # Obwon 2012-02-05 10:24
I guess we're not totally up the creek yet!

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