Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the largest ever complaint against Walmart for breaking federal labor law by violating workers’ rights. The complaint alleges that Walmart illegally fired and disciplined nearly 70 workers, including those who went on strike last June to speak out for better jobs.
The NLRB asserts illegal activities in 14 states at 34 stores and shows that Walmart executives conceived and oversaw the implementation of an unlawful retaliation policy for store managers to execute. The complaint—the largest ever against Walmart in both size and scale—names 63 individual store managers and Vice President of Communication David Tovar.
Current and former Walmart workers who members of OUR Walmart have called on the retail giant to stop its practice of retaliating against workers who are speaking out for positive change, and publicly commit to increasing access to full-time work and raising wages to at least $25,000 per year. While the majority of Walmart associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart makes $17 billion in annual profits and the Waltons—the richest family in the country—has a combined wealth of $144.7 billion.
“Walmart thinks it can scare us with attacks to keep us from having a real conversation about the poverty wages we’re paid,” said Barbara Collins, a fired Walmart worker from Placerville, Calif., who is one of the workers named in the complaint. “But too much is at stake—the strength of our economy and the security of our families—to stay silent about why Walmart needs to improve jobs. Now the federal government is confirming what we already know: we have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my co-workers illegally. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, we hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs.”
The NLRB complaint will go before an administrative law judge. If Walmart is found liable, workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights. While historic, the complaint alone is not enough to stop the retail giant from violating the law. Since the start of the year, Walmart has continued to retaliate against workers who speak out for better jobs.
Members of OUR Walmart have launched a petition to meet with President Obama regarding their effort to improve working conditions at Walmart. To sign the petition or to sponsor a fired worker, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/.