Feds Charge Walmart: They Broke Labor LawsBy: Tina Volpe - January 15, 2014
The nation’s largest retailer is no stranger to criticism, it has in the past, been associated with child slave labor issues in countries such as Bangladesh.
Wal-Mart is infamous for its unfair labor laws and employment practices. Last year alone, the company reported a net income of over $11 billion dollars. An amount of money that should be ample to remedy some of their workplace practices with regard to wage law violations, inadequate health care, exploitation, and their anti-union stance.
These facts could account for some of the 5,000 lawsuits that are filed against Wal-Mart each year, which calculates to approximately 17 lawsuits per day.
That is a lot of unfairness – but they do employ 1.4 million people in the U.S. alone, about 1 percent of the population, so bad things are bound to happen.
And they did happen, and the Feds are all over them. Federal officials have filed a formal complaint charging that Wal-Mart violated the rights of protesting and striking workers last year.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees for striking, or as the NLRB put it, for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions.
Striking is an American right that goes as far back as the early 1800’s. The Feds see it that way too.
The NLRB found that Wal-Mart in more than a dozen states had seen this labor malfunction.
In the complaint filed by the NLRB, they included an inner-office memorandum that Wal-Mart sent to its striking employees, it read:
“[I]t is very important for you to understand that the company does not agree that these hit-and-run work stoppages are protected, and now that it has done the legal thinking on the subject, it will not excuse them in the future…Should you participate in further union-orchestrated intermittent work stoppages that are part of a common plan or design to disrupt and confuse the company’s business operations, you should expect that the Company will treat any such absence as it would any other unexcused absence….”
Wal-Mart obviously just wants their employees to take their unfair practices, or go elsewhere. Knowing full well the country is in a recession and there really isn’t anywhere else to go.
The complaint will go before an administrative law judge. If the judge rules for the employees, Wal-Mart could be liable to the workers for back pay, reinstatement of their jobs and removal of any disciplinary action the company enforced.
In November last year, workers and labor activists staged hundreds of protests at Wal-Mart stores in many major cities across the U.S., including the Bay Area, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Washington, demanding pay increases and better working conditions. Employees also have accused the company of punishing workers who participate in these type of actions.
“Wal-Mart 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 former Wal-Mart worker from Placerville, Calif., who is one of the 70 workers named in the NLRB complaint. “But too much is at stake, the strength of our economy and the security of our families, to stay silent about why Wal-Mart needs to improve jobs.
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