Following the publication of a lid-blowing L.A. Times article on the (reportedly) deplorable working conditions at IKEA’s sole American manufacturing plant in Danville, Va., I blogged about the controversial-in-Sweden-but-not-so-much-here story because, after all, when many of us think of the beloved Swedish manufacturer of stylish, mostly disposable home furnishings, we think of environmental do-goodery, solar-powered lamps, and scrumptious cinnamon buns, not labor disputes and oppressive, sweatshop-like working conditions.
As I wrote in my post, “Labor trouble in Lack-land,” about what Salon refers to the whole icky situation as “IKEA’s Third World Outsourcing Adventure:”
…. IKEA’s first stateside factory, opened to much fanfare in 2008 in Danville, Va., is, to put it bluntly, an awful place to work. Unlike IKEA’s seemingly blissful, unionized Swedwood production plants in Europe where workers make $19 an hour at minimum wage and have five weeks of government-mandated paid vacation, the disgruntled employees at Swedwood’s Danville location start at $8 an hour and receive 12 days of vacation, eight of them on dates determined by the company.
Not surprisingly, where there’s a whistle being blown there’s also a potential "Daily Show" segment. If you didn’t catch it the first time around when it aired in late June, check out the hilarious, offensive, and hilariously offensive segment, “Swede Dreams,” in which "Daily Show" correspondent Jason Jones gets to the heart of the matter by chatting with both a union organizer and a “Swedish business expert” named Lars Tragardh. Jones also tours disgraced “Swedish-run Mexican factory” in Danville but an “American-run American Factory” operated by the Hickory Chair Company.
Sensitive viewers be warned: the clip, while safe for work, contains gratuitous scenes of collapsing furniture, bad Swedish accents, and off-color references to horse anatomy. Enjoy.
Video screenshot: The Daily Show