When workers at an Ikea in Stoughton, Massachusetts expressed interest in forming a union, the company responded with an illegal anti-union crackdown that culminated in locking workers into a conference room and forcing them to watch anti-union slideshows that workers described as "scaremongering".
An international union group filed a complaint against Ikea with the Dutch Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, citing similar incidents in Dublin, Ireland and Lisbon, Portugal.
The lock-in meetings were mandatory on pain of termination and lasted for hours every day in the runup to a union vote; an employee who tried to photograph one of the slides was kicked out of the hall.
The UFCW alleged in the OECD complaint that the failed vote in Stoughton was the culmination of IKEA's attempt to discourage workers against unionizing with so-called "captive-audience" meetings, or mandatory gatherings that employees could be terminated for skipping.
The OECD complaint alleged that IKEA's captive-audience meetings would last for one to two hours every day in the run-up to the vote. During the meetings, the UFCW alleged, management disparaged collective bargaining, indicating that the union would likely fail to help workers "obtain a net gain in wages and benefits," and told employees that they were "personally offended" by the push to unionize.
"It was a lot of pressure and people were getting scared," Morrison said. He described the meetings as "grinding," and added that management began doing favors for certain employees, like not assigning Saturday shifts.
According to the complaint, management also showed employees a PowerPoint comparing the election to selecting a getaway destination. Voting against the union was compared to a "vacation paradise." The union alleges in the OECD complaint that "the choice to have union representation was illustrated with a donkey with a stick in its mouth next to a small wooden hut."