Trouble for Wal-Mart: Mega-giant accused by U.S. government of illegally firing workers across the country

Retail giant faces trial over its campaign to snuff out worker strikes

Topics: Wal-Mart, OUR walmart, Union, Labor, Strikes, UFCW, law, nlrb, , ,

Trouble for Wal-Mart: Mega-giant accused by U.S. government of illegally firing workers across the countryProtesters outside Walmart in Los Angeles, November 7, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Wal-Mart illegally disciplined, threatened and surveilled workers – including unlawfully firing 19 people – according to a complaint released by the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon.

“Now the federal government is confirming what we already know,” fired worker Barbara Collins said in an emailed statement. “We have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my coworkers illegally.” Collins is among 23 activists fired by the retail giant after joining a strike by the union-backed, non-union labor group OUR Walmart last June.

The NLRB complaint, similar to an indictment, lists incidents involving more than 60 workers in 34 states, as well as a Wal-Mart official’s warning on national television that, “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job. And if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.” It also cites the memo, read to employees by managers in various stores in February 2013, stating that “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.”

As I’ve reported, Wal-Mart’s effort to deter activism appear to have taken a toll: While organizers said 400-some employees joined a Black Friday walkout in November 2012, they’ve released no count for how many Wal-Mart employees were involved in the protests or civil disobedience on Black Friday 2013. Wednesday also brought the release, by Occupy Wall Street, of a cache of internal Wal-Mart documents regarding the company’s campaign against OUR Walmart. As reported by Gawker, these include a PowerPoint presentation on the “Duty of Loyalty” of managers to “Support Walmart’s position on how we treat people” and “Report union activity to the Labor Relations Hotline immediately.” As MSNBC reported, they also include a list of “Early Warning Signs” including workers “speaking negatively about wages and benefits” or “ceasing conversations when leadership approaches.” Wal-Mart spokesperson Kory Lundberg confirmed the documents’ authenticity to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, and said they were “important to make sure that our associates are receiving accurate and timely information.”



Wal-Mart did not respond to Salon’s Wednesday inquiries. When asked about its firings of strikers, the company has denied that it broke the law, but not that it punished workers for not coming to work during the strikes. Spokesperson Brooke Buchanan told Salon in November that Wal-Mart has “a strict policy against … any kind of retaliation. But we also do have an attendance policy that we enforce.” While disciplining strikers for not working is generally illegal, Wal-Mart has implied that the work stoppages in question were legally unprotected intermittent strikes. Former NLRB chair Wilma Liebman said in June that “it would be hard on the facts so far” to sustain that argument.

The NLRB, which is charged with enforcing and interpreting private sector labor law, announced in November that it had found sufficient evidence to issue a complaint. Per its standard practice, the Labor Board held off on doing so while attempting to reach a settlement with the company. In a Wednesday statement, the NLRB said that settlement discussions “have not been successful …” The case now heads for a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge, whose ruling could be appealed to the NLRB’s presidentially appointed members in Washington, whose ruling in turn could be appealed to federal court.

Labor advocates and activists have often questioned how well the pace and penalties of the Labor Board can avert or avenge employer crimes. An NLRB spokesperson did not respond to a Wednesday afternoon inquiry regarding whether the agency would seek a court injunction to expedite the case.

The NLRB complaint came one day after another legal challenge to Wal-Mart advanced toward trial. In a Tuesday afternoon ruling in the case Carrillo v. Schneider, federal Judge Christina Snyder rejected a motion for partial summary judgment from Wal-Mart and one of its warehouse operators, Schneider Logistics, which would have left them not liable for wage theft allegations from sub-contracted California warehouse workers. As I’ve reported, workers in the same warehouse who were directly employed by Schneider reached a $4.7 million settlement in a parallel case last month.

“Walmart controls every detail of its warehouse workers’ jobs and strictly monitors compliance with all its procedures,” plaintiff attorney Michael Rubin said in a statement celebrating the ruling. “The workers function as Walmart employees, and Walmart cannot avoid responsibility by pinning all blame on the underfunded subcontractors it uses to staff its warehouse.” Schneider declined to comment.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...