Walmart has tried to shut down the protests by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the first it has filed in a decade. Josh Eidelson explains that a key question is whether the actions are, as Walmart charges, representational picketing aimed at getting union recognition, or, as OUR Walmart, the UFCW, and the workers involved have insisted, unfair labor practices strikes and picketing, which have much greater legal protection. Getting an injunction may not be the point, though:
[Former NLRB Chair Wilma] Liebman said based on the publicly available information, “I don’t think the threshold is met” for Walmart to get its injunction. But she said that may not be Walmart’s real goal: “My guess is that what Walmart is fearful of is that this [strike] is going to work on Friday, and it’s really going to disrupt operations. So they’re trying to chill that.”Walmart is worried that these protests outstrip management's ability to intimidate workers store by store and person by person, in other words, so it's trying to use the law to intimidate them.
While Walmart is going to the wall against workers fighting just to get enough hours of work to support their families, it's paying out shareholder dividends a few weeks early to avoid increased tax rates when the Bush tax cuts expire. Half of Walmart shares are owned by members of the Walton family, who will benefit enormously from this move.
Walmart workers are paid so little and scheduled for so few hours, are subjected to so much wage theft and discrimination and abuse and retaliation, that many are forced to seek food stamps and other public assistance just to get by. And they're up against a giant company largely owned by some of the richest people in the country. The workers have to be at the center of this fight—it's their fight. But they need our support.
Pledge to stand with Walmart workers this Black Friday, and find out about an action near you.