As is typical of corporate Walmart, the world’s largest retailer has once again taken steps to prevent its uppity hourly employees from any and all efforts to unionize. As I wrote about yesterday, Walmart “associates” are planning protest and education actions on the “traditional” massive holiday shopping day after Thanksgiving. Walmart obviously feels so strongly about that tradition that they’re kicking it off on 8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day. OUR Walmart, the organized group of employees, objects. And in what by now is a Walton / Walmart tradition in itself, and in addition to the alleged harassment of associates who dare question the boss, the bosses are seeking to prevent the employee actions aimed at pointing out the problems.
At NY Times:
In a rare move, Wal-Mart is trying to stop a union-backed group from staging a series of demonstrations against the company on Black Friday … .
Wal-Mart Stores … has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board – its first in a decade – seeking to prevent the group, known as OUR Walmart, from holding what the group says will be the biggest protests of this kind against the company at hundreds of stores.
Wal-Mart called the protests planned for this week a union-financed, union-orchestrated effort that did not represent how most employees felt. It said it expects small protests at just a few stores.
Okay, just to point out the obvious: the “union-financed, union-orchestrated effort(s)” are so bad that Walmart seeks NLRB help even while stating they only expect “small protests at just a few stores.” News reports include estimates of up to 1000 store protests.
The NY Times article notes that “labor experts” are saying that the Walmart complaint
… could be meant as a warning shot to discourage workers from participating since the labor relations board often takes months to make a ruling, but it nonetheless reflects how seriously the company has come to view a group that it had once dismissed as a nuisance.
Making Change at Walmart is also involved in the challenges to Walmart, a
… campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.
There’s the scary union connection. Making Change notes that last week, “Walmart filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge to stop Walmart workers from protesting,” and that yesterday, in Washington, D.C., Walmart employees followed associates in other locations, and walked out.
Rather than addressing the concerns that are affecting 1.4 million workers across the country, Walmart has attempted to silence those who speak out for changes that would to help the company, workers and the community. …
… In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states.
As the same Making Change article notes, Walmart is facing a number of challenges, not just those from associates.
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination law suit on behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee, and a wage theft class action suit in Chicago.
Significantly, even Walmart shareholders are making noise.
At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service.
Attempts to paint “small protests at just a few stores” as dangerous “union-financed, union-orchestrated effort(s)” requiring National Labor Relations Board to step in is no doubt easier than figuring out what to do when shareholders applaud the “union-orchestrated” efforts of employees.
(OUR Walmart Logo via OUR Walmart)