NLRB judge issues split decision in big Walmart case

WASHINGTON (PAI) – A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge issued a split decision in a big, notable case involving the monster anti-worker retailer Walmart.

On the plus side, ALJ Jeffrey Carter ordered the firm to rehire 14 individual workers it illegally fired for standing up for their rights in 2013, and rescind discipline against 41 more.

He ordered the 14 reinstated with net back pay.

But that was all. Carter limited the reach of his ruling.

He decided their job actions, part of OURWalmart’s nationwide campaign of 1one-day strikes in 2012 and its “Ride for Respect,” which saw members of the workers’ group descend on the firm’s Arkansas headquarters during its annual meeting the following spring, affected only 30 of Walmart’s 4,300 U.S. stores.

So in his 137-page ruling in January, Carter ordered standard NLRB notices posted at those 30 stores. The notices say Walmart admits it broke labor law against OURWalmart members and promises not to do it again. Carter did not order Walmart to tell workers and managers at other U.S. stores about the ruling. And labor law bans fines on Walmart.

The case involved OURWalmart’s initial actions, including 1-day strikes, in 2012 and its meeting with company executives the following year. OURWalmart, aided-but not controlled by-the United Food and Commercial Workers, launched its campaign to put public pressure on the monster retailer to improve wages, hours and working conditions at the stores.

After the one-day strikes, and despite prior company statements, it fired the 14 workers and disciplined the others. Both moves broke labor law, Carter found. Walmart illegally threatened the workers for planning to take “protected concerted activity,” the strike, Carter said. It also illegally “issued disciplinary personal discussions” to workers “because they participated in labor activity on their own time,” he added.

Walmart officials illegally read the workers “talking points that they could reasonably construe” as a work rule with an illegal ban on strikes, Carter added. And it illegally “coached” – disciplined – the workers for engaging in the protected strike, he explained. OURWalmart, which has since reorganized into another form, had no comment on Carter’s decision.

Photo: AP



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.