By Sahid Fawaz
When Walmart workers engaged in a strike in 2013, the company responded by firing them. The NLRB has now ruled that the firings were illegal.
As Yahoo reports:
“Administrative Law Judge Geoffrey Carter said in a ruling posted on the [NLRB’s] website that the U.S. retailer violated labor law by ‘disciplining or discharging several associates because they were absent from work while on strike.’
Carter was ruling on a complaint filed by the NLRB on behalf of a union-backed worker group, OUR Walmart, in 2014. Most of the allegations related to a coordinated set of strikes collectively referred to the ‘Ride for Respect’ because they involved traveling by bus to the company’s headquarters in Arkansas for protests at its shareholders’ meeting in June 2013.
Wal-Mart had argued that it was lawful to discipline workers with unexcused absences to participate in the protests because the strikes constituted ‘intermittent work stoppages’ not protected under labor law.
But the judge found the ‘Ride for Respect’ differed materially from other previous work stoppages not protected by law because, among other factors, it was not a brief strike — meaning the risk for workers was higher — and because it was not scheduled close in time with other strikes.
Carter ordered Wal-Mart to offer 16 former workers their previous jobs and make them ‘whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits suffered as a result of the discrimination against them.’
Wal-Mart was also ordered to hold a meeting in more than two dozen stores to inform workers of their rights to organize under U.S. labor law.”
We hope that this ruling will cause Walmart and other companies to rethink retaliations against workers in the future. Firing workers for union activity is illegal and a cowardly way to respond to workers who are trying to better their lives.