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FEDERAL LABOR BOARD JUDGE: Walmart Violated Workers’ Rights

20141128 OURWALMART Milpitas CA-9National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Orders Walmart to Stop its Illegal Threats to Workers in One of Many Expected Decisions against Walmart

Workers, Supporters Say Walmart Must End Its Abuse of Power and Improve Jobs

WASHINGTON — A National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge issued a sweeping decision yesterday against Walmart for its illegal actions against workers at two California stores. The judge is ordering Walmart to immediately stop making intimidating comments to workers who are part of OUR Walmart, the national organization of Walmart workers calling for better jobs at the company.  Six workers will also have illegal disciplinary actions removed from their records for time that they were on strike.

“Walmart cannot continue its abuse of power any longer,” said Raymond Bravo who will have his record cleared of illegal disciplinary action for the time that he was on strike in 2012. “Our families and our communities cannot thrive when companies like Walmart create an economy of low pay, erratic scheduling and illegal threats.”

In reaction to the first strikes in Walmart’s history in 2012, Walmart managers and a top spokesperson began to illegally threaten workers for coming together and calling for better wages, schedules and an end to the illegal treatment of workers. Yesterday’s decision reverses the disciplinary action taken against six striking workers at the Richmond store and addresses threats made by a Walmart manager in the Placerville store that the store would close if too many workers became part of OUR Walmart and the threat made by a manager in the Richmond store that he would “shoot the union.”

In the decision, the Administrative Law Judge notes that “some associates were offended when [Walmart store manager] Van Riper stated ‘if it was up to me, I would put that rope around your neck’ when associate Markeith Washington put a rope around his (Washington’s) to assist with moving a heavy counter.” Workers at the Richmond store sent a letter to the company about this store manager which stated, “By using racist remarks and threats of physical violence towards Associates he has created a work environment that is threatening, harassing and intimidating.”

The decision is the result of one of several local complaints that the Board has prosecuted against the company.  Recently, after OUR Walmart filed a charge on behalf of a fired worker in Texas, Walmart settled the case rather than have it brought to trial.

Additionally, the Board is in the process of prosecuting Walmart in a national complaint that includes counts of illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 70 workers. According to the complaint, managers and the company’s national spokesperson illegally threatened striking workers and took illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes.

“The judge’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have known for a long time – the company is illegally trying to silence and intimidate employees who speak out for better jobs,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice. “Walmart is facing increasing outrage from customers, community members and clergy who are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for an end to abuse of power and for a stronger economy that supports all working families.”

BACKGROUND ON THE NATIONAL COMPLAINT AGAINST WALMART

The Board is in the process of prosecuting Walmart on charges filed just after Black Friday 2012, when Walmart managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, a spokesperson for the company at that time, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.

Additionally, the complaint covers the illegal firings and disciplinary actions that occurred after 100 striking Walmart workers took their concerns to the company’s June shareholder meeting in Bentonville.

In 2013, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice released a white paper documenting Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates. At that time, there were more than 150 incidents in stores across the country, with few signs that Walmart would soon stop targeting those who speak out and act collectively.

 

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

UFCW’s Making Change at Walmart Campaign Recognized at UNI World Congress

UNI-Meeting-300x225A delegation of UFCW and UFCW/RWDSU local union presidents along with local and International staff from the United States and Canada is attending the 4th UNI World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa from December 7-10.

The UFCW delegation, led by International President Joe Hansen, was recognized by the UNI World Congress for the leadership and commitment the UFCW has demonstrated in the fight to raise standards at the world’s largest retailer through the Making Change at Walmart campaign.

Alongside Walmart workers and unions from Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa in the Walmart Global Alliance, UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill, who is also the President of UNI Commerce, spoke about the achievements of Walmart workers worldwide, including the victories on hours, scheduling, and pregnancy policy won by OUR Walmart members in the United States.

The UNI World Congress, held every four years, is the most important forum for the UNI affiliates who represent more than 20 million workers worldwide. During the World Congress, UNI affiliates discuss the challenges faced by workers around the world and devise strategies to promote growth through breakthrough organizing models.

The UNI Women’s Conference was held on December 4-5 and preceded the 4th UNI World Congress. UFCW women delegates along with women hailing from unions across the globe participated in the Women’s Conference to discuss and propos resolutions on equal pay, violence against women, and women’s health among other issues.

UFCW Local 400 Shoppers Workers Ratify New Agreement

Local-400-Shoppers1-300x168Last week, UFCW Local 400 members working at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy overwhelmingly ratified a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement that increases their wages and maintains their health and retirement security.

The contract culminates a months-long, difficult round of bargaining that required multiple extensions of the old agreement to resolve complex issues, many of which revolved around increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act. The workers’ success was due to a sustained campaign that mobilized support from Shoppers customers and the community, with members of the bargaining advisory committee visiting every store in the area.

“Because our Shoppers members stayed strong throughout this challenging process, they won a collective bargaining agreement that improves their standard of living and keeps their comprehensive health and pension benefits,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “This is a solid contract that compares well to others in the industry, and it’s testimony to the power of member activism. It also gives our members one more thing to be thankful for two days from now.”

“It took a lot of hard work, but we stuck together in solidarity, and it all paid off,” said Jose Mercado who works at Shoppers #2615. “I think it’s a fair and good contract.”

“I feel good about the contract,” said Kevin Freeman of Shoppers #2618. “We touched base on all the issues people had in the stores and it was a good outcome. I was really glad to be on the bargaining team—it was a great group. Now we just have to keep moving forward.”

“We earned this contract through our actions in the stores,” said Chartel Scott, who works at Shoppers #2653. “I’m proud of the strength we showed through this long process.”

“Together with our union leadership we stuck together, didn’t give up, and got the best deal possible,” said Keith DeWitt, who works at Shoppers #2646. “Our hard work has paid off.”

Key provisions of the contract include:

  • Guaranteed wage increases of up to 90 cents/hour over three years, with all of the agreement’s financial benefits coming in the form of permanent raises rather than one-time bonuses.
  • Increased employer contributions to fully fund pension benefits.
  • Health care maintenance of benefits, which ensures that Shoppers will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.
  • Spouses will continue to be covered under the health benefit plan.
  • Overtime will continue to be paid for work exceeding eight hours in any day.
  • Sunday will continue to be treated as separate from the basic work week.

The agreement, which affects 2,500 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, takes effect retroactively as of July 13, 2014, and it expires on July 8, 2017.