Walmart Responds to Government Unfair Labor Charges

The complaint is the largest ever brought against the retailer

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Twinkies Wal-Mart
APA worker collects shopping carts in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Bristol, Pa.


By Sam Hananel

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials filed a formal complaint Wednesday charging that Wal-Mart violated the rights of workers who took part in protests and strikes against the company.

The National Labor Relations Board says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions at the nation's largest retailer.

The labor board's general counsel first laid out similar charges in November, but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. Those discussions were not successful, government officials said in a statement.

The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified.

"We now have the opportunity to present the facts of these cases in front of a judge," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan. "No reasonable person thinks it's ok for people to come and go from their scheduled shift without being held accountable."

The protests in 2012 were organized by the union-backed group OUR Walmart, which has spent years pressing Wal-Mart to increase wages and benefits and make it easier for workers to organize a union. The group claims the majority of Wal-Mart associates are paid less than $25,000 a year.

Wal-Mart has until Jan. 28 to respond to the complaint. The case will then go before an administrative law judge. If Wal-Mart is found liable, it could be required to award workers back pay, reinstatement and reverse any disciplinary action. But the company could still try to work out a settlement as the case goes forward.

"We've never seen a complaint against Walmart of this size or scope, and we're glad the NLRB is taking action," said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice, one of the groups critical of Wal-Mart. "Walmart's attacks on its own employees and cannot go unchecked."

The complaint alleges that in November 2012, Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar went on CBS News and said there would be "consequences" for workers who engaged in strikes and protests ahead of Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving. Similar comments were made to employees at Wal-Mart stores in California and Texas, the complaint said.

Thousands of people - including dozens of Wal-Mart workers - went forward with protests at Wal-Mart stores around the country. The company ultimately fired 19 workers who took part, despite the fact that their actions were protected by the National Labor Relations Act, the complaint said.

The NLRB complaint further alleges that Wal-Mart unlawfully threatened, disciplined or terminated workers for engaging in protected strikes and protests in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Wal-Mart also illegally threatened, disciplined or fired employees at stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas in response to other worker activity that is protected by labor laws, the complaint alleged.

See AOL video coverage of the striking Walmart employees.

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Elisa Jed

A lot has been going on about these strikes. The company has several months to respond to the accusations. I am eager to see what happens. Hopefully it won't go to court and they will settle.

Elisa Jed | http://www.wertzbrothers.com

Thursday at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brennemanbelkin

Were these people fired for protesting or for not showing up for their scheduled shifts?

As for unions, once upon a time the were needed, now the union I'm in does nothing but collect dues.
They don't even answer their phone. Pretty sad.

January 17 2014 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susan

Even if Wal-Mart is found liable, it could be required to award workers back pay, reinstatement and reverse any disciplinary action does not mean that when these folks are paid back and reinstated that later are fired for some other reason. I think it all is sad.

January 17 2014 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jrb359

If you dropped out of school, get pregnant at the age of 15 , or get locked up, don't blame Wal-Mart for your problems. They supply LOW paying jobs for people that don't pay much. If you don't want to work there, DON'T. If you don't want to shop there then DON'T! Take into consideration that a lot of people that don't have much money usually shop there to save a few dollars. Put a union in there and watch prices rise.

January 17 2014 at 6:05 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jrb359's comment
Mickylitz

jrb359 ...

If you think the service is bad at Wal-Mart let the Unions in there and see how much worse it will get and how much more you will pay for your items..
Unions a destructive just as destructive as the administration we have now...
Two peas in the pod.

January 17 2014 at 6:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mickylitz

jrb359 ...

If you think the service is bad at Wal-Mart let the Unions in there and see how much worse it will get and how much more you will pay for your items..
Unions a destructive just as destructive as the administration we have now...
Two peas in the pod.

January 17 2014 at 6:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
marart1327

My wife gets over $12 an hour, has health insurance for her self and our son, and has regular hours. let any other organization beat that. The Union bosses want the big plum, the big money that goes with unionising walmart. mos tof the Union bosses make more money than CEO's of most corporations. AND THEY DO NOT INVEST ONE DIME IN THE BUSINESS THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OVER AND WRECK... FOR PROFIT. If unions are so good why do they only represent 1% of the nation. The only unions are in placesthat cannot move, like government, retail, and schools (we see how well that's worked out). The advocates do not drop a dime in this cause, they are well paid to get workers going...and 19 workers??? My wife drove through where the picket line was at her store...she so no employees and no one in the store knew of anyone that was at the rally. Smacks of the same way communists took over in the 20th century.

January 17 2014 at 5:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to marart1327's comment
Mickylitz

marart1327 ,,,

People with union mentality always want more money, more benefits and less work and always will, they are greedy and lazy to boot.
Service has been seriously affected as well as quality to the negative with unions, we no longer get what we pay for.
If performance is poor a company should have the right to fire people and replace them with someone who actually wants to work and earn their living.
Unions are destroying work ethics and make customers pay for it .

January 17 2014 at 6:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Walter Ganieany

Good for the workers, I mean come on, Walmart put out food bins for customers to give food to their poor workers!!! Pay them a fair wage and Taxpayers won't have to give the workers food asistance anymore.

January 17 2014 at 2:01 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Jim

its the Obama packed NLRB and Obama is backed by the unions, it is just like the Liberals going after Christie, the unions and the NLRB are going after Walmart, because Walmart wont play fair with the unions, whine whine whine that's the unions, but it just goes to show if you grease the palms of Politicians as the unions did with Obama you will get a pay back and now the unions are getting their pay back by the Obama NLRB, nothing has changed in DC as Obama promised it is business and money floating around as usual

January 17 2014 at 1:19 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment
Hi Art & Nan

They don't "play fair" with thw WORKERS, either!

January 17 2014 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kbright677

The amount of greed in this country is ridiculous!

January 17 2014 at 1:19 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kbright677's comment
jrb359

Yes, just LOOK at the politicians!

January 17 2014 at 5:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mohtro

I for one will not be going to Walmart any more, in fact I have a
Walmart cc that I just cut up and threw away!!!

January 16 2014 at 11:55 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mohtro's comment
blo2thehead

You're just being Wallyphobic.

January 19 2014 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jimdavis11a

How did corporations make any money, (and they made lots) in 1968 when the minimum wage was equal to $10.60 per hour and productivity was less that half as much as it is today?

January 16 2014 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jimdavis11a's comment
lindayvonne1

If the minimum wage was equal to $10.60, that is because the $1 was actually worth something. Don't blame Walmart for that - blame our politicians. Based on the productivity I see in Walmart, if it less than half as much in 1968 as it is today, the people should have been fired. Walmart employees are not being abused. If there were thousands participating in the protests and only 19 were fired, perhaps it is because those 19 were actually at fault.

January 17 2014 at 6:42 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lindayvonne1's comment
Hi Art & Nan

I don't suppose it's occurred to you that productivity is low at Walmart BECAUSE associates are poorly paid and poorly treated. When Sam Walton was alive, his practice was "take care of your employees and they'll take care of your customers. It worked. But when he died and the corporatists took over and put profit ahead of employees, everything went to "H-E-DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS"!! THAT'S a FACT!!

January 17 2014 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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