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Republican Majority NLRB ‘Rules In Favor Of Walmart,’ Which ‘Lawfully Disciplined & Fired’ Protesters Who Took Part In A 2013 Public Action At Its Annual Stockholders’ Meeting

Published Tuesday, July 30, 2019
by Allen Smith/SHRM.org
Republican Majority NLRB ‘Rules In Favor Of Walmart,’ Which ‘Lawfully Disciplined & Fired’ Protesters Who Took Part In A 2013 Public Action At Its Annual Stockholders’ Meeting

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled Walmart did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it disciplined or fired Employees for breaking its attendance policy when they left work for nearly a week to protest at the Retail Giant's annual shareholders' meeting in 2013. 

The walkout was not protected because it was one of a series of protests, rather than a bona fide Strike, the NLRB) decided late last week (July 25th).

Walmart has about 1.3 million Employees at more than 4,000 stores and none of its stores are Unionized.

In 2010, some of its employees, with help from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), formed the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), which sought increased wages, more predictable scheduling, expanded health care access and freedom from retaliation for Walmart Workers, noted NLRB Member Lauren McFerran in her dissent.

Workers staged a series of short-lived walkouts from 2012 to 2013, including on Black Friday in November 2012 - often the biggest shopping day of the year and when many are off work for the Thanksgiving Holiday, when as many as100 Walmart Employees walked off the job.

From late May to early June 2013, about 100 Workers walked off the job for five to six days to travel to the shareholders' meeting and demonstrate - 54 were later disciplined or fired.

There was another walkout involving an unspecified number of Employees on Black Friday 2013.

Walmart did not violate the NLRA when it read talking points to protesters stating that it did not believe "these hit-and-run work stoppages are protected" and that if Employees "participate(d) in future Union-orchestrated work stoppages."

The company would consider their work absences unexcused.

The talking points accurately described unprotected walkouts, the NLRB ruled.

While Walmart did have a "personal discussion" - its lowest-level warning, with one Employee about her unexcused absences that included a day on which she protested and wasn't scheduled to work, that was a mistake without discriminatory intent and not unlawful, the NLRB ruled. 

The NLRB also upheld Walmart's verbal warnings for two Workers who protested for four days a few weeks before the protest at the shareholders' meeting.

The NLRB reasoned the discipline was warranted because the Workers went on Strike and returned to work with the plan to Strike again a few weeks later.

The NLRA prohibits such "intermittent strikes," according to the NLRB.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Report, Go To: www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/walmart-lawfully-disciplined-and-fired-protesters.aspx

 

 

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