A group of nearly 170 IKEA warehouse workers in Joliet and Minooka, IL have ratified their first contract with IAM Local 701.
The warehouse workers at the Joliet and Minooka distribution centers voted to be represented by IAM Local 701 in June 2019. Local 701 Business Representative (BR) Rich Handler along with Special Representative (SR) Bob Walls of the IAM Woodworkers Department immediately reached out to the company requesting negotiation dates following the vote.
The Local 701 negotiating team consisted of Rich Handler, Directing Business Representative (DBR) Sam Cicinelli, Bob Walls, along with four 701 IKEA bargaining committee members:Deborah Farley, Randy Holloway, Freddy Gonzalez and Nicolas Figueroa.
After months of negotiations, a final deal was struck and on April 24, 2020 the warehouse workers overwhelmingly voted and accepted the contract. The vote was 92 to 7 in favor of their first agreement.
“It was a long journey to get to the point of ratifying the IKEA workers’ first contract,” said Handler. “The agreement contains substantial increases in pay, plus the many additional benefits of working under a 701 contract. I credit its success to the patience and hard work of the workers and the collective effort from the Bargaining Committee over the last year along with a strong turnout for the vote.”
“Local 701 is proud of the hard work that the negotiating team put into this first contract, as well as the warehouse workers who stood up to the company and ratified a contract that they rightfully deserve. Congratulations to all the IKEA workers and welcome to the IAM,” said Cicinelli.
“Congratulations to the members of IAM Local 701 at IKEA,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “Achieving a first contract is no easy feat. I’d like to thank the Bargaining Committee, BR Rich Handler, DBR Sam Cicinelli, and SR Bob Walls for their hard work in helping secure this agreement. With a solid first contract now in place, I’m excited to see how our new members grow with the support of the IAM.”
The IAM is continuing its push for bold solutions to combat the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Guarantee Act would provide grants to employers of all sizes to pay for wages and healthcare benefits for their employees.
“Machinists Union members and millions more workers across the nation who are currently laid off will be critical to restarting our economy when we are past this pandemic,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Unless we take bold action now to keep employees connected to employers, our economy will take years or more to get back on its feet. The IAM stands with Congresswoman Jayapal and will do everything it takes to pass the Paycheck Guarantee Act.”
Owen Herrnstadt, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President, testified in a virtual Congressional Progressive Caucus hearing Wednesday in support of the legislation.
“The Act is simple, effective and accessible to those who need it most—workers,” Herrnstadt said during the hearing. “If Congress can hand out a trillion dollar tax cut to corporations it should be able to fund this program, especially with the number of workers applying for unemployment compensation topping 30 million.”
The IAM is joining 106 members of Congress in calling for labor unions to be included in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program aiding small business and non-profits during the COVID-19 crisis.
Led by U.S. Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), the letter to House leadership points out that while faith-based non-profit institutions are among the program’s beneficiaries, labor unions have been excluded.
The loan program blocks 501(c)5 organizations, such as labor unions, from applying for loans, while allowing 501(c)3 organizations, like the right-wing Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), to benefit from the program.
Labor unions, the lawmakers write, are critical to making sure America’s workers have equal access to recovery funds made possible by the CARES Act.
“Congress must ensure labor unions can continue to do the crucial work of representing and fighting for rights of workers,” the lawmakers wrote. “Unions and their members will be crucial actors in our economic recovery, and we urge you to include them as eligible entities for federal support in programs like the PPP.”
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, the IAM has made it our No. 1 priority to keep our membership—and their families—safe,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Mark my words, the Fighting Machinists demand that every member goes home healthy every single day.”
The IAM has called on governments and employers in the U.S. and Canada to provide essential workers with personal protective equipment and to institute CDC guidelines at all workplaces.
“It is wrong, immoral and unethical for workers’ health to be imperiled in the pursuit of profit,” said Martinez. “The lives of transportation workers, aerospace workers, healthcare workers, airline workers, government employees, factory workers, rail workers, woodworkers and any worker matter.”
The names of IAM members who have died on the job are memorialized with their name, lodge and date of death with a brick at the IAM’s Workers’ Memorial at the Winpisinger Center.
The IAM continues to update members we have lost to COVID-19 on our In Memoriam page.