NLRB Decides to Prosecute Nationwide Violations at Walmart, AFL-CIO Commits to Backing Workers

Jackie Tortora
November 19, 2013

Making Change at Walmart, a coalition of Walmart associates, small business owners, religious leaders and other members of the community that are fighting to make change at the nation's largest employer, announced today the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will prosecute Walmart for its "widespread violations of its workers’ rights." The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs and working conditions. 

The coalition was advised Monday that the NLRB ‘s General Counsel  is prepared to prosecute a complaint against Walmart for illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June.

The decision addresses allegations of threats by managers and the company’s national spokesperson discouraging workers from striking and illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes. Workers could win back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions as a result of the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights.

“The Board’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work. “Americans believe that we have the responsibility – and the right – to speak out against corporate abuses of workers, and this proves we’re finally being heard, and making kinks in Walmart’s armor. Customers, clergy and community members from across the country are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for better jobs and a stronger economy for all of us.”

UFCW International President Joseph Hansen agreed with Gupta:

Today, the government confirmed it will prosecute Walmart for illegally firing and disciplining workers who just exercised their rights.  Quite frankly, enough is enough. Walmart workers are sick and tired of empty statements and unenforced policies and it is time for Walmart to obey the law.

The decision was a response to charges filed last year against Walmart managers who threatened and discouraged workers from going on legally-protected strikes as well as illegal firings and disciplinary actions stemming from a protest at the company's June shareholder meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Tiffany Beroid, a Walmart worker from Laurel, Md., explained why the workers are standing up:

Working at the largest employer in the country should mean making a decent living. Those days are long gone. Walmart continues to show that it’s afraid to have real conversations about creating better jobs, but would rather scare us into silence. But change at Walmart is too important to our economy and for our families for us to stop speaking out.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he was proud that AFL-CIO is committed to supporting the brave Walmart workers who are standing up for their rights:

Walmart and the Walton family will have a choice: they can choose to stand with the American people and strengthen our economy or continue a race-to-the-bottom business model that hurts workers and our economy.  They can choose to honor their workers' rights; to ask Walmart to publicly commit to improving working conditions or continue their pattern unlawful retaliation against those who speak out.

Meanwhile in L.A., truck drivers went on strike against Walmart and other companies for similarly denying rights to their employees, including misclassifying workers and firing union activists, in the latest wave of actions against the retail giant.

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