NRLB Sets Terms To Dismisses Wal-mart Picketing Complaint Against Union

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A union seeking better conditions for Wal-mart workers worker won a a partial legal victory today, Jan. 31, 2013, as the National Labor Relations Board ruled to dismiss an unfair labor practice complaint  filed by against the world’s employer against the union.

Wal-Mart workers protesting on Black Friday.

Wal-Mart workers protesting on Black Friday.

The case involved picketing and protests at Wal-mart stores.

The NRLB agreed to dismiss an unfair labor practice filed by Wal-mart against the union if the union agreed not to picket Wal-mart for 60 days and abide by certain other conditions such as direct union organizing activity.

From the NRLB ruling on the Wal-mart picketing dispute:

The NLRB Office of General Counsel today announced that, based on specific commitments made by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, it is not necessary to decide the merits of an unfair labor practice charge filed by Wal-Mart against the UFCW.

In that charge, filed November 20, Wal-mart alleged that the union violated the National Labor Relations Act by picketing at its stores for more than 30 days with the intent of seeking recognition for the union, without filing a petition for an election.

The union, however, contended that the actions at the stores were not intended to gain union recognition, but to help employees in their efforts to have the employer commit to certain labor rights and standards.

The charge will be held in abeyance and dismissed in six months as long as the union complies with the commitments it has made.

Under those commitments, described in an Advice Memorandum, the union disavowed any recognitional or organizational object and promised to maintain a disclaimer to that effect on Making Change for Wal-Mart and OUR Walmart websites The union also promised, among other things, not to engage in any picketing or confrontational conduct which is the functional equivalent of picketing for 60 days.

This item by San Francisco State professor John Logan from provides come background on the Wal-mart picking case—

So what is Wal-Mart’s record before the board?

Between 2000-2005, NLRB regional directors issued 39 complaints accusing the retail giant of unlawful anti-union behavior.

These complaints involved 101 separate incidents of anti-union conduct at dozens of Wal-Mart stores across the country.

The allegations of unlawful conduct included discriminatory hiring, firing, disciplining, and policy application; “unit packing” and worker transfers to dilute union support; illegally addressing worker concerns to undermine union activity; workplace changes motivated by an anti-union animus; illegally soliciting and remedying grievances; threatening benefit loss if workers choose to organize; interrogating workers about union activity; illegal no-talking rules; discriminatory application of solicitation rules; discrimination against union hand-billers; discrimination against pro-union workers; and illegal no-solicitation rules, including bans on union insignia, bans on discussing unions, and the confiscation of union literature.

The number of NLRB complaints against Wal-Mart declined after 2005 only because efforts by employees to organize at the workplace also declined – in other words, the unlawful anti-union behavior had the intended effect.

Many of the NLRB complaints – mostly dealt with by the Bush NLRB, which was certainly no friend of unions — were eventually resolved by settlements that required the company to remedy the alleged violations and post notices in its stores promising not to engage in any further unfair labor practices charged.

Unfortunately, this penalty that acts as no deterrent against unlawful behavior by powerful corporations such as Wal-Mart.

This video tells the story from a Wal-mart employee’s perspective:

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