Progressive Wednesdays…Think Progress, IKEA, Huffington Post, etc…etc..

While waiting on the President’s budget proposal I thought it might be interesting to see what was going on with our Progressive friends. I came across these two interesting entries.

From the people at Think Progress comes this tale of Corporate Malfeasance:

Owned by the World’s Largest “Charity “Organization, To Dodge Taxes, IKEA Thwarts Union Organizing…  screams the blog headline.

ikea logo

It appears that three years after an IKEA factory moved to the small blue collar town of Danville, Viginia creating over 300 jobs  “the international furniture giant has become the center of a union battle, racial discrimination complaints, and high turnover from disgruntled employees”.

“Workers at the Danville IKEA plant say they are forced to work at a frantic pace, participate in mandatory overtime — possibly facing disciplinary action for not showing up….”.according to blog writer Paul Breer.  “Moreover, while making a profit of $2.2 billion in 2009 and a 7 percent sales increase in 2010, the hourly wage in the Virginia IKEA packing department was slashed from $9.75 to $8.00. Attempts at forming a union have also been thwarted by IKEA,  as some of the 335 IKEA workers in Virginia signed cards expressing interest in forming a union with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.”

job interview

How frantic do I need to be?

The list of outrages goes on, particularly where he compares the $8 hourly wage in the US to the $19 per hour wage in Sweden. But I’ll let you read the rest for yourself and reach your own conclusions.

Do Facts Matter?

As I read this article I began to wonder why anyone would be complaining about having to work overtime given our current economic conditions and particularly in a hardship blue collar area such as Danville, Virginia. I have visited one or two IKEA stores in the past and other than being greeted in Swedish, I cannot imagine anyone being made to work at a frantic pace by the Swedes….not exactly a country known for exploiting labor.

I made this table

I made this table without union help

The source of the corporate profits which Mr. Breer cites is contained in an article from the left leaning guardian.co.uk . The story clearly states that while IKEA did have an improvement in profits, as an international corporation it has made cost adjustments in local markets where the economies were not doing well.

Mr. Breer also states that attempts in forming a union have been thwarted by IKEA as some of the 335 IKEA workers in Virginia signed cards expressing interest in forming a union. The operating word here is “some”.  Was it three workers or 170 workers? That distinction doesn’t appear to be relevant to Mr. Breer.

As to the claim that IKEA is the world’s largest charity organization, and set up as a non-profit to evade taxes, Mr Breer uses information from the Euclid Network, a progressive organization who’s mission is to “connect across borders for a …stronger European civil society”.

In an article by Sofie Vriends posted on the Euclid Network, she states; ” When trying to understand the organizational structure of IKEA one gets lost in a web of daughter foundations, trust funds and holdings in Luxembourg and the Antilles, clearly established to stretch the different tax systems to their shady limits”.

Sounds a bit like The George Soros Foundation to me.

Actually the Guardian article quoted above, simply states that “IKEA, which has 280 stores in 26 countries and employs 123,000 people, is owned by a foundation controlled by its octogenarian founder. Ingvar Kamprad created IKEA in the village of Agunnaryd in southern Sweden in 1943 when he was 17, and still advises the company.”

And who is this labor crusader exposing IKEA’s wrong’s?  According to his bio on the Think Progress Web Site, Paul Breer is an intern for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Paul is an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas, studying Political Science. Paul co-created MeetTheFacts.com, a political fact-checking organization, which has been profiled on many online news sites. Paul comes to DC from Kansas, and no, he doesn’t live on a farm.

Nice term paper Paul.  But you might need a career change from being a fact checker. Perhaps a move to Sweden upon graduation could get you a $19 per hour wage and the 5 weeks of paid vacation. Or maybe you should read the next story and do some further investigative reporting.

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From The Daily Beast

A blogger who used to write for the Huffington Post filed a $315 million lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of all the writers who he says were not paid fairly for their work. Jonathan Tasini, a social activist, is seeking class-action status alleging that none of the $315 million AOL paid to purchase the Huffington Post has gone to the writers and producers of the news and opinion site. Tasini said he contributed 216 “pieces of content” between December 2005 and February 2011 and was never paid for any of his work—and he claims that there are as many as 9,000 other “content providers” who have worked for free. In a statement on his website, Tasini called Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington a “robber baron CEO … who believes that they, and only they, should pocket huge riches while the rest of the peons struggle to survive.”

Aol huffington

 

aol huff bacl

Where are the unions when you need them. Get on this Paul and let’s make Arianna pay!

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As a matter of interest, the following are a few of the comments from the reader’s of  Think Progress on Mr. Breer’s article.

Comment 1:

Karl Marx is laughing in heaven.

America thought that letting the corporations run rampant would be the perfect system. Weaken the government, strengthen the corporations’ hand beyond belief–and see how it goes.

We have tried this theory out over the last 30 years, and that’s why we’re doing so well today. /irony

China shows us that a planned economy, with strict government control, works much better.

Comment 2:

The Swedes are doing to American workers what American corporations are doing in other countries with their outsourcing.

Trying to squeeze as much work out of an individual without having to pay them a reasonable wage.

A reversal of fortunes for this country, so-to-speak…

Comment 3:

This is a great inspiring article. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

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And so it goes.  This is the supposed hard core Obama base. Anyone care to make any predictions on the budget battle.

And that’s the way it is here: “a little left of right”

JT

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