Late last week Walmart responded to a series of labor strikes, according to a document that was obtained by the Huffington Post. The memo, which is seven pages, was sent on October 8 and it was supposed to be just for salaried employees. The memo discusses how strikes should be handled. The strikes were run by hourly employees and they took place at 28 locations across 12 cities and were the first in the history of the company.
“As you know, activists or union organizers have been trying for years to stop our Company’s growth and to damage our relationship with our customers and members. One of the activists’ or union organizers’ tactics is to try to disrupt the business by urging our associates to participate in a walkout or other form of work stoppage,” the memo states.
The memo tells managers not to violate the legal rights of the workers and no to discipline those who take part in walkouts, sick-outs or sit-ins.
“Walmart probably has in mind that the Obama NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] often sides with unions over management,” Lance Compa said. Compa is a professor of labor law at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations. “So they’re being extremely cautious.”
The managers at Walmarts across the country legally can perform FOE’s. This is when they offer their employees Facts, Opinions, and Personal Experiences about organizing. The company offers the following example in the memo: “I don’t think a walkout is a good way to resolve problems or issues.”
The strikes first occurred in Los Angeles on Friday when 60 workers walked away from their jobs. In September, warehouses owned by Walmart experienced workers strikes in California and Illinois. The strikes are aimed at having Walmart end retaliation practices against employees of the company who want to organize by November 23, which is Black Friday. According to Colby Harris, a Dallas Walmart employee, a strike will occur on Black Friday if the practices do not end.
Dan Fogelman, a spokesman for Walmart, said that the strikes are publicity stunts when he spoke with the Huffington Post. “We’ve seen the unions hold these made for TV events outside our stores for about ten years now and they want the publicity to help further their political and financial agendas. There is a very small number of associates raising these concerns, and they don’t represent the views of the vast majority of our 1.3 million associates.”
According to Compa, the memo reflects Walmart’s concern over the 20-some charges of unfair labor practices that Walmart workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over the past 8 weeks in concurrence with the strikes.
Fogleman also said that Walmart has “very strict policies against retaliation. If an associate feels that they have been retaliated against, we want to know that. That allows us the opportunity to look into it and take appropriate action.”
You can read the memo in full here.