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Ikea workers organize with Machinists union

The vote covers 186 workers at sites in Joliet and Minooka.

The IKEA sign on the outside of a furniture store.
Workers at Ikea distribution centers in Joliet and Minooka have voted to unionize with the International Association of Machinists.
AP

Workers at Ikea distribution centers in Joliet and Minooka have voted to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, part of a global campaign targeting the furniture retailer.

The union, known as IAM, said it has won the right to bargain for 186 employees at the two locations. IAM organizer Dennis Mendenhall said workers voted 83-76 to join the union in ballots cast Wednesday and Thursday.

Mendenhall said the union already has contracts at Ikea facilities in four other states. Workers there urged those in Illinois to affiliate with the union, he said.

“Wages and benefits are always on people’s minds, but this was more about having a real voice on the job and a level playing field,” Mendenhall said. He said Ikea is moving workers from Minooka to Joliet and that many workers felt mistreated in the process.

An Ikea spokesperson said in an email: “We believe the choice to be represented by a union lies solely with the co-worker, and we respect the decision made by the co-workers in our Joliet and Minooka distribution centers.”

The IAM has been working with a global labor federation, Building and Wood Workers International, to win bargaining rights at more IKEA distribution and fulfillment centers.

One of the largest trade unions in the U.S., the IAM represents workers in the aerospace, transportation, manufacturing, shipbuilding, woodworking and other industries. Mendenhall said the union has about 6,000 members in the Chicago area.