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Wal-Mart takes legal action in labor battle
November 17, 2012 at 7:58 AM

 , NBC News

Wal-Mart takes legal action in labor battle

It's a battle of a big-box retailer and big labor. And as Black Friday - the busiest shopping day of the year - nears, it's starting to get nasty.

Wal-Mart is taking its first legal step to stop months of protests and rallies outside its stores, targeting the union that it says is behind such actions.

Wal-Mart late on Thursday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.


The move comes just a week before what is expected to be the largest organized action against the world's largest retailer, as a small group of Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday.

"We are taking this action now because we cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates," said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar. "If they do, they will be held accountable."

NBC Latino: Wal-Mart workers plan large protest on Black Friday

The union is undeterred. "Wal-Mart is grasping at straws," said UFCW Communications Director Jill Cashen. "There's nothing in the law that gives an employer the right to silence workers and citizens."

Protests and rallies outside Wal-Mart stores around the country and other actions such as flash mobs have been orchestrated by groups including OUR Walmart, a coalition of thousands of Wal-Mart workers which wants to collectively push for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

OUR Walmart and another group, Making Change at Walmart, are affiliated with the UFCW. The union represents more than 1 million workers, including many at retailers that compete with Wal-Mart. According to a filing with the Labor Department, OUR Walmart was a subsidiary of the UFCW as of 2011. It is unclear whether it remains a subsidiary or has legally separated from the union.

Numerous activities over the past year or longer "have caused disruptions to Wal-Mart's business, resulted in misinformation being shared publicly about our company, and created an uncomfortable environment and undue stress on Wal-Mart's customers, including families with children," Wal-Mart outside counsel Steven Wheeless said in a letter sent on Friday to Deborah Gaydos, assistant general counsel of the UFCW.

The National Labor Relations Act prohibits such picketing for more than 30 days without the filing of a representation petition. The NLRA also requires the NLRB to seek a federal court injunction against such activity, the letter states.

The OUR Walmart group of current and former Wal-Mart employees is organizing its most public displays yet against the Wal-Mart chain, with 1,000 protests such as strikes and what it calls "online actions" that began this week and will culminate on Black Friday.

Strikes and protests have been planned across the country. For example, workers walked off the job in Seattle on Thursday and in Dallas on Friday as part of this effort, OUR Walmart said.


Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said that anyone who is not an employee is prohibited from coming onto its owned or controlled parking lots or other facilities to solicit, hand out literature or otherwise engage in any demonstration.

Wal-Mart said that it intends for the UFCW to be held accountable for any injury or property damage that may occur as a result of the actions led by the UFCW, OUR Walmart or any of its other affiliates.

"We are prepared to and will take all appropriate legal actions to enforce our property rights, protect our business, and ensure the safety of our customers and associates, on Black Friday and in the future," the letter states.

OUR Walmart has said that it has thousands of members across most U.S. states, but has not given an exact number of members. Wal-Mart store workers pay $5 monthly dues to join OUR Walmart.

Wal-Mart has 1.4 million U.S. workers.

Wal-Mart filed its charge against the UFCW late on Thursday with the NLRB regional office in Little Rock, Arkansas. The case number is 26-CB-093342.


  • im23vaughn
    November 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM
    Walmart sucks! My nail shop regal nails is there & so is my optometrist. I go to them. But as far Walmart i don't shop there. First, they never have enough cashiers. I refuse to wait 20 mins to buy 1 item. Second, its about 15 mins away. I have a Giant Eagle, Meijers, Family Dollar, & Kroger all.within 5 mins from my house.

    From what i.hear, Walmart treats their employees crappy & the pay is crappy. I mean yea work there for 10 years you make decent pay but its nothing compared to what employees at other grocers make after 10 years. Meijers starts you out at 10 day 1.
  • bbyblueAK
    November 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM
    I honestly don't know what to say as I work at Walmart.
  • ILive4This
    November 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I've done the same comparison.  Target wins, and they have better choices.  More natural, organics.....non-crap choices.  They have crap too, but it isn't a monopoly on crap.  I swear by Target, and rarely step foot in Walmart.

    Quoting Luv.My.Kidz:

    Yup... people don't get that! I shop at Target and My mom shops at Walmart.... we compared reciepts.... I had her get the same exact things I needed, gave her the same coupons I was going to use, etc and I still came out about $20 cheaper at Target than she did at Walmart. She couldn't believe it. Things were "on sale" at Walmart according to them and they actually raised them it cracked me up. Walmart fakes people out with their wording.

    Quoting stacymomof2:

    LOL, yeah, that is a truly nuanced and accurate take on the whole thing.  Go ahead and bow to your corporate overloard, I for one am going to be upset that Wal Mart turns bustling small businesses into ghost towns by undercutting everyones price on everything with their mega purchasing power, crappy stores and crappy service.

    And before you tell me I shop at Wal Mart, I literally NEVER do.  As a person who has owned a retail store in the past I always go to a local place when possible and refuse to buy loads and loads of poor quality merchandise because it's cheap.  I am careful with money and spend it on stuff that I need, and when I do spend it I get something nice that will last for years, if I can afford it.  What I can't afford is to buy cheap stuff that I have to throw away after a month or two because it's crap.  Name brand stuff is cheaper at Target or Family Dollar, for those that argue that Wal Mart carries other stuff than the cheapest garbage.  This I know because my nanny used to occasionally pick stuff up for me and after a few trips to Wal Mart I told her to please not go there with my money, especially after looking at receipts.  Everything from Tampax to Dawn dish soap (two things I get name brand) was cheaper at Target.

    If people are really hurting (and I have been there) they still don't have to go to Wal Mart, you can get the same kind of cheap stuff at dollar stores and other discount shops which are owned by a private owner.


  • ILive4This
    November 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    My husband said I was crazy when I complained about name-brand spraypaint I bought there.  I knew it wasn't any good, and he insisted b/c it wasn't Walmart brand, it must be good.  I've had too many experiences like that.  I had no proof, I just had a feeling the stuff was cheapened.

    Quoting stacymomof2:

    Exactly.  Since walmart is such a big purchaser they can get stuff manufactured just for them.  Cheap stuff.  Poor quality.  Something that you think you can afford but are stuck replacing after a couple of months, making it actually more expensive.

    Quoting Carpy:

    Sadly, many can not afford to shop in small business.  Companies have to cheapen products for Walmart.  Check out a pair of wranglers at walmart and then go check out a pair at tractor supply.  The quality is 10 times better.  Tire manufacturers even have to switch to a cheaper grade of rubber compound for the tires that go to walmart.  EVERYTHING is cheapened.

    Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

    People choosing Walmart destroy businesses.

    Be sick of them.

    A store can't do anything if people don't shop there.

    Quoting stacymomof2:

    I'm sick of Wal Mart destroying small business.

    Quoting yourspecialkid:

     You know what....I say give them what they are wanting and raise the prices accordingly....I am sick of unions strong arming businesses.  Give them what they ask for.....consequences and all. 


  • candlegal
    November 20, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    I say fire them all, there are plenty of people waiting for jobs.

  • stormcris
    November 20, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    Alright. What these protesters should do is counter it with the fact that Walmart has false advertising of these sales. Some stores do not conform to the time frames set.

  • womanp0et
    November 22, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    LMAO!! This is exactly what I was thinking, W00t!

  • womanp0et
    November 22, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    You are so-o-o right! If more people could feel empathy for people who work their butts off for years but never manage to make ends meet, this would be a much better world. 

    Take a look at this:

    The Walmart Economy by the Numbers

    Walmart is powerful…

    Walmart’s rank (PDF) as employer of retail workers and rank in size of private U.S. employers

    $408.2 billion
    Walmart’s 2010 revenue as the number one Fortune 100 company

    But America is paying the price…

    Number of U.S. jobs lost from 2001-2006 as a result of Walmart’s imports from China

    Conservative estimate of percentage of Walmart’s share of U.S. Trade Deficitwith China

    $8.8 million
    Cost to Massachusetts (PDF) of Walmart associates using publicly subsidized health care in 2009

    $1 billion
    Cost to nation if public safety net use by Walmart associates in Massachusetts is adjusted nationwide1

    And Walmart associates are paying the price…

    Average annual salary of a Walmart sales associate (based on an IBIS World figure)

    Average hourly wage of a Walmart sales associate (based on an IBIS World figure)

    Additional cost per shopping trip for a Walmart customer if the company offered a minimum wage of $12 an hour (PDF)

    We can make it better.

    When UFCW locals and members, Walmart associates, elected officals, religious leaders, small business owners and community allies join together as one, we can make change at Walmart and make change in our communities.

    1. Figure is a calculation of the percentage of Massachusetts Walmart associates receiving subsidized care (42%), applied to the 1.4 million associates in the United States, at the cost to Massachusetts per each associate ($1,753.00) receiving aid. Using the data from Massachusetts for 2009 found the percentage of Associates using publicly subsidized care.   Percentage is 42%.  Then applied this to the entire Walmart workforce to determine number of Associates nationally who would receive publicly subsidized care using the rate in Massachusetts.  From the Massachusetts data found the per Associate cost by dividing the total cost of providing subsidized care in MA to Associates by the number of MA Associates receiving subsidized care.  This yielded a per Associate cost of $1,753.  Multiplied that by 42% of Walmart’s total US workforce (1.4 million).  Results in $1 billion.

    2. $8.81 per hr x 34 hrs a week x 52 weeks = $15,500

    Quoting Bookwormy:

    I don't mind Walmart charging more if that's what it takes to treat their employees better. Union or no union. I just want people to be treated well.

    What's Target's reputation in terms of how they treat their employees? How about If I'm going to shop at big businesses, these are the ones because my impression is that they are better than Walmart. If I'm wrong, I'd like to know.

  • Lizard_Lina
    November 22, 2012 at 6:52 AM
    South park wal mart episode

    Quoting AMBG825:

    How can Wal-Mart be such a huge retailer when supposedly no one shops there?

  • AMBG825
    by AMBG825
    November 22, 2012 at 6:53 AM

     Haven't seen that one. I stopped watching South Park after season 2 because it just wasn't as funny

    Quoting Lizard_Lina:

    South park wal mart episode

    Quoting AMBG825:

    How can Wal-Mart be such a huge retailer when supposedly no one shops there?


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