Benedict XVI devoted much of his encyclical Caritas in Veritate to issues of globalization, including the observation that “the global context in which work takes place also demands that national labour unions, which tend to limit themselves to defending the interests of their registered members, should turn their attention to those outside their membership, and in particular to workers in developing countries where social rights are often violated .” America is a developed country in which social rights are, sadly, often violated – every year thousands of American workers are illegally disciplined or fired for exercising their right to organize.
Thanks to such global labor solidarity, however, that didn’t happen when workers sought to form a union at the new IKEA plant in Danville, Virginia. IKEA is signatory to a worldwide agreement with a global confederation of unions – the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers – pledging to honor the right of workers to organize. Moreover, back in the home country, Sweden’s powerful labor unions helped make sure the company honored that agreement. Without unlawful interference by their bosses, on Wednesday IKEA’s Danville workers voted to join the International Association of Machinists by more than three to one.