Walmart Moves To Fire Union Activist Employees

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A union flash mob at Landover, MD last year.

Remember, Walmart pays so little because We The People subsidize them. They don't offer affordable benefits, so their workers qualify for Medicaid. They pay so little that full-time workers are eligible for food stamps and even welfare. And they call them job creators? Hah.

Walmart is facing accusations that the company is engaged in a bold and illegal campaign to stamp out union activity after firing five employees in recent months who were involved in a group organizing the company’s workers.

Although the company says that the terminations are unrelated to any employees’ organizing activity, OUR Walmart – which receives funding and support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – argues that the pattern points to an emerging strategy to break the organization’s command structure and intimidate workers.

One terminated worker, Angela Williamson, a mother of two, was fired in late May because, the company says, of unexcused absences. An active organizer at her store in Florida – and at the national level – Williamson says she couldn’t pay rent on her apartment after losing her job. She believes that her role in the labor organization led to her termination.

In Los Angeles, where local opposition has been mounting over a proposed Walmart in Chinatown, Girshreila Green was fired from her job earlier this month, just five days after she addressed a crowd at the largest ever anti-Walmart rally. A mother of two and seven months pregnant, Green has been an outspoken critic of Walmart and a leading national organizer at OUR Walmart.

[...] “These sort of firings are the most familiar violation seen in labor arbitration,” William Gould, a professor of labor law at Stanford University.

“The idea is to single out a particularly active worker in order to put the fear of God into others so that an interest in union activity will be chilled. Highly visible companies like Walmart succeed in not only getting this message to their employees, but also to society at large.”

[...] Federal labor law broadly protects the activity of non-certified groups against any retaliatory action by an employer. Yet, protected as they are on paper, workers often meet with frustration in contesting unjust firings.

“The arbitration process is incredibly slow-moving, as it often takes several years of litigation to get employee reinstated,” says Kent Wong, the director of UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education. “Companies realize this and are frequently willing to violate the law knowing the penalty is so distant and relatively minor.”

“This all is very consistent with Walmart’s practice,” Wong added.


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