Union supporters and hot dog lovers alike took to social media to shame a vendor for crossing a picket line to sell its wares at the Richmond Ikea store last week.
Japadog — a well-known street vendor in Vancouver and Richmond — set up one of its carts at the Swedish furniture giant’s location, where unionized staff have been walking the picket line since mid-May.
The job action by about 350 workers has forced Ikea to shut the store’s bistro, which serves up cheap hot dogs as part of its limited menu of frozen yogurt, cinnamon rolls and soft drinks. The store’s 600-seat restaurant has also been shut for the duration of the labour action.
But after Japadog started selling its trademark hotdogs, topped with unique Japanese ingredients such as seaweed and freshly grated daikon, union supporters and even self-proclaimed Japadog fans lambasted the company for its decision to set up shop so close to the store.
“Shame on Japadog for conducting business during a labour dispute!! NEVER will any of us EVER eat Japadog again!!” wrote Kimm Davis on Japadog’s Facebook page. “It’s a disgrace to the community and the locked out workers fighting for their rights!! Boycott Japadog!!!”
“I was a Japadog fan. No longer! How dare you open business at Ikea,” added Grant Coleman.
Even those not familiar with Japadog added their opinion from a pure labour relations point of view.
“Don’t know this company or tried it’s food, but the owner has made a big mistake in judgment,” wrote Larry Bensette.
Japadog did have some supporters, although they were by far the minority. One was Arlene Kennedy, who wrote, “Too bad you were intimidated by union bullies, Japadog. You were just doing what any free enterprise would do. I am always amazed at how people who go on strike hold the rest of the world hostage for a choice they have made...”
Following the barrage of comments on Facebook, Japadog said, “We decided to close the location...we apologize to all Ikea staff members for any inconvenience.”
Those supporting the union congratulated Japadog for its decision.
“I congratulate Japadog for making the right decision,” wrote Ross Brown. “I for one will take my whole family down to buy hotdogs and will be changing my reviews to reflect the change of heart. Credit where credit is due.”
“Thank you japadog. We are up against Goliath and little things mean a lot. Three-hundred families are fighting for survival,” wrote Jacqueline Jones. “Four-hour weeks are not a living wage. Too many of us have to use the food bank, and that is not right when you work for one of the richest families in the world.”
Ikea officials said they had invited Japadog to the site to serve an anticipated increase in customer traffic after the recent distribution of the popular chain’s 2014 catalogue.
“We contacted popular local food vendor Japadog to enhance our customers’ shopping experience and to provide our customers with a fun day out for the family,” wrote Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, Ikea’s corporate communications and public relations manager in an email.
Löwenborg-Frick added Ikea found it unfortunate the Teamsters’ union initiated a campaign against this small business owner, particularly since they have nothing to do with the on-going strike.
“They (Japadog) were busy the whole day they were on site and enjoyed a great deal of public support,” she added. “Ikea of course respects Japadog’s decision to withdraw, based on the union’s reaction.”
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