British Columbia Labor Board Official: IKEA Broke Provincial Labor Law Vs. Teamsters

VANCOUVER, B.C.–The giant modern furniture company, Ikea, broke British Columbia provincial labor law in its now-16-month-long dispute with Teamsters Local 213, a B.C. labor board official ruled.  Ikea’s stand has forced its Vancouver workers to strike.

In his July 30 decision, Bruce Wilkins, the board’s associate chair of adjudication, found “IKEA representatives tried to entice workers to cross the picket line with promises of pay premiums above and beyond what was offered to the union during rounds of collective bargaining.”  The “premiums” were a 5 percent wage hike, a $500 bonus, and a $2.50-per-hour premium for all hours that line-crossers worked “while the strike is ongoing.”

Wilkins ordered Ikea to stop the illegal payments and resume bargaining with Local 213. He also fined Ikea a sum equal to the excess money it paid line-crossers, with that cash going to Local 213.  Ikea said it would appeal his ruling to the full provincial labor board.

Ikea agreed, without contesting them, to charges that two Ikea executives approached picketing workers on May 14, 2014, with pamphlets describing the “premiums,” urging them to take the money and cross the picket line.  Wilkins called that illegal direct negotiations with workers, over the union’s head.  It also posted the offers on the web.

“When it posted the web posting, however, the employer undermined the union and its exclusive bargaining agency under the code. At that point, the employer no longer met either the objective or subjective elements of the requirement to bargain in good faith,” Wilkins ruled.

And the offer of higher wages and bonuses – compared to the last offer Ikea gave Local 213 – was Ikea’s illegal attempt at “inducing the employer’s employees to refrain from becoming or continuing to be a member of a trade union.”

He ordered Ikea “pay to the union the amount equivalent to all monies paid to bargaining unit employees from the beginning of the labour dispute which are in excess of the pay the employer was willing to agree to with the union in collective bargaining.”  Wilkins also ordered Ikea to take the illegal offers off the web.

-PAI