In the labor law world, Walmart is often known for its strict stance against organize labor. The world’s largest retailer has typically resisted cooperation with organized labor and has been known to limit the number of full time employees at their stores who are entitled to benefits. Currently, the retailer has no unionized employees in the United States. Many groups have attempted to create a union presence within Walmart, but up to this point none have successfully obtained enough votes among employees to choose a union to represent them.
This week, Walmart is facing a strong challenge from a group that says it represents employees, although it is not recognized as an official union. The group is coordinating protests and rallies which have been going on for quite a while, and now they are planning a strike that would take place on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
The group is seeking to use collective bargaining to secure better wages, more hours, and benefits for the more than 1 million workers it says it represents nationwide.
Walmart has issued a statement saying that anyone who is not a current employee is prohibited from coming onto their property to engage in any type of demonstration. Under current First Amendment interpretations, protestors must generally stand on publicly own land or get consent from a private landowner to protest. However, employers should not block employee attempts to organize and use collective bargaining to seek better wages, hours, and benefits.
Now, Walmart is trying to get the National Labor Relations Board to stop the protests and strikes, complaining to the regulators that the activity is an unlawful interference with its business.
Source: Reuters, “Wal-Mart files U.S. labor charge against union,” Jessica Wohl, Nov. 16, 2012.