“If you try to speak out to management, they retaliate,” a striking Walmart worker told me when I inadvertently came across a protest march on Black Friday. “They cut your hours.” Or worse according to The National Labor Relations Board. The feds issued a sweeping complaint alleging the nation's largest retailer violated the rights of its employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests in 14 states.
The consolidated complaint involves more than 60 employees, 19 of whom were allegedly fired as a result of their participation in protest activities the government says is protected.
Fox News reports the labor board's general counsel initially presented the charges to Walmart back in November, but held off on filing an official complaint while trying to work out a settlement with the company.
The NLRB said in an official statement the discussions weren't successful, so they issued the complaint "regarding some of the alleged violations of federal law. More than 60 Walmart supervisors and one corporate officer are named in the complaint."
At the heart of the complaint is a law that dates to 1935 called The National Labor Relations Act. It guarantees the right of private sector employees to act together to try to improve their wages and working conditions with or without a union. It was also enacted to "curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy."
Among the things cited by the government is a CBS TV interview a Walmart spokesperson gave saying there would be "consequences" for workers who engaged in strikes and protests.
Among the incidents specifically cited by the government is a TV interview a Walmart spokesperson gave to CBS News. He stated there would be "consequences" for workers who engaged in strikes and protests. Similar comments were made to employees at Walmart stores in California and Texas, the complaint said.
As I wrote about in this post on Staffing Talk in November, Walmart protests in California led to the arrest of more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters in downtown Los Angeles, the largest civil disobedience case in the company’s history.
Employees from three separate stores in the Chicago area were also among the nation's Walmart workers to go on strike over what they say are the retailer’s low wages, unpredictable hours and unjust retaliation against workers.
Richard Wilson, a 27-year-old lead associate at a Walmart in Chicago, was among those who walked off the job. He told Huffington Post and other media outlets he has worked for Walmart for two years and earns roughly $12,000 a year for around 32 hours of work a week.
Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who attended at least one of the Walmart workers protests, says Walmart isn't the only employer paying poverty wages, and wants Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers.
"If Walmart had to raise prices to pay for increased wages, it would cut into the store’s huge low-price benefits for the poor."
Not so fast though, says Peter Suderman, a senior editor at Reason magazine, who did this Storify truth-bomb on Walmart critics. He says if Walmart had to raise prices to pay for increased wages, it would cut into the store’s huge low-price benefits for the poor. "It’s regressive," he says.
Walmart must respond to the complaint by January 28 and no hearing date has been set. I reached out to Walmart media relations team but haven't heard back so far. I will update the post if I do.