Policy: Labor

UFCW: NLRB ruling on Walmart case does not prevent us from protesting retailer

By |
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,NLRB,Walmart,UFCW

The United food and Commercial Workers Union said in a statement that the National Labor Relation Board’s ruling today on the case involving them and Wal-Mart “does not affect or limit OUR Walmart members’ and supporter’s ability to otherwise protest, demonstrate against or strike because of  Walmart’s unfair practices and poor record on labor rights” so long as the protests are not specifically picketing.

The UFCW issued the statement through OUR Walmart, an activist group it created to protest the nonunion retail giant. UFCW’s members mostly work for Wal-Mart’s rivals. OUR Walmart attempted to organize a mass walkout of the retailer giants employees on the day after Thanksgiving. The effort prompted  Wal-Mart to file a complaint with the NLRB, arguing the group was violating a federal law that prevents protests by a union group without the group trying to organize the workers.

The NLRB ruled today that it was not necessarily to decide the case because the UFCW had affirmed to board it was not trying to organize the workers. It announced “The charge will be held in abeyance and dismissed in six months as long as the union complies with the commitments it has made.” The main commitment there was “not to engage in any picketing or confrontational conduct which is the functional equivalent of picketing for 60 days.”

The UFCW indicated that it didn’t see this as much of a barrier to what it was already doing. In a statement emailed to reporters, it said that it will “continue to inform its members and supporters that [OUR Walmart’s] purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights.”

The full statement reads:

This week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel issued a memo holding in abeyance a charge Walmart filed against UFCW over picketing which occurred at Walmart stores.  As part of the resolution of the matter, OUR Walmart will continue to inform its members and supporters that the organization’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.

To place in context Walmart’s charge, OUR Wamart has filed over  80 charges against Walmart for its attempts to silence workers at stores across the country.  Over the course of the last year, there have been numerous unfair labor practice charges filed with the NLRB against Walmart for wrongful termination and unfair labor practices directed toward their workers.  Other pending charges allege that Walmart unlawfully attempted to deter workers from participating in legally protected strikes planned during last year’s “Black Friday” shopping period.  This includes alleged illegal threats from Walmart managers and the company’s national spokesperson, David Tovar,  who is alleged to have threatened workers on national television.

In Kentucky, a settlement of one charge was reached between Walmart and Aaron Lawson after Walmart fired Lawson following his distribution of flyers and for speaking out for better wages and consistent hours for him and his co-workers.  As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to rehire Lawson and provide full back wages for the time that he was out of a work.

As noted in the NLRB General Counsel’s memo, to clarify any confusion about OUR Walmart, the organization will advise its members and supporters that the organization has no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with it as the representatives of Walmart employees.

“OUR Walmart has been able to raise the voices and concerns of workers at Walmart stores across the country and this resolution ensures that will continue,” said Colby Harris, OUR Walmart member from Dallas, Texas.  Citing Walmart’s recent announcement to address part-time scheduling, something that OUR Walmart members have been fighting for, Harris said, “Walmart is hearing us and at least starting to make changes that will improve the lives of workers and their families and our communities, and we will continue to raise our voices until there is real change at Walmart.”

In the resolution, OUR Walmart agreed to refrain from “picketing” or other actions that can be construed as “picketing” for a 60 day period.  This does not affect or limit OUR Walmart members’ and supporter’s ability to otherwise protest, demonstrate against or strike because of  Walmart’s unfair practices and poor record on labor rights and standards or otherwise help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over such issues and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.

 

View article comments Leave a comment