IKEA Swedwood plant votes to unionizeRINGGOLD, VA

- Workers at Swedwood Danville, the Ringgold, VA furnishings factory operated by IKEA,  have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

The vote, overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, means the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will represent employees in collective bargaining. The unofficial vote tally was 221 in favor, 69 against at the 312-employee plant; NLRB must certify the vote before the union gains official standing.

A three-year effort by Swedwood workers to unionize leading up to yesterday's vote, was also very emotional. Swedwood broke ground on its first 930,000 square foot Danville operation in 2007, entering a deeply depressed woodworking region where furniture factory closures were more the norm. The company announced plans at the time for construction of four manufacturing facilities spread over a 209-acre site over 10 years.

IKEA Swedwood plant votes to unionizeEmployee relations soured, and Swedwood workers began an organizing effort. Swedwood replaced management, appointing Ken Brown to manage the plant in January 2011. The union relationship at the IKEA-owned furniture plant has global implications for the multinational company. IKEA operates 26 other furniture production facilities around the globe, employing more than16,000 workers, many of them unionized, according to Swedwood Group's Information Manager Ingrid Steén.

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