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Labor Groups Criticize Wal-Mart Case for Silencing Free Speech
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Labor groups have sent a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board criticizing the lawsuit Wal-Mart brought in March alleging trespass, as a method to silence free speech.

Though Wal-Mart employees are not represented by labor unions directly, two labor unions had tried to intervene in the long-time dispute between Wal-Mart and its employees by leading a protest campaign for improving working conditions at Wal-Mart stores.

The protests led to a huge number of complaints before the labor board. However, in January, Wal-Mart told the board that the protests and picketing was disrupting its business and had caused business to suffer in the holiday season. Following the representation by Wal-Mart, the groups, mainly the United Food and Commercial Workers International, and OUR Walmart, stopped the picketing.

  
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However, Wal-Mart filed a lawsuit in Orange County, Florida, on March 22, alleging that UFCW, OUR Walmart, and the Central Florida Jobs with Justice Corp, as well as several individuals had committed “coordinated, statewide acts of trespass” at Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart alleged in the lawsuit that “Defendants have left Walmart no other choice but to pursue injunctive relief through the courts.” Presumably, the company decided to file the lawsuit in March following an incident in February where a group of members of OUR Walmart distributed handbills to passersby and customers.

The labor groups have complained to the NLRB that the trespassing lawsuit is a coercive tactic meant to silence free speech and criticism. The labor groups alleged that the lawsuit constitutes another instance of unfair labor practice since it is not meant to prevent trespassing but to stop criticisms.

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However, a Wal-Mart spokesman, Dan Fogleman said the lawsuit was necessary to “stop the union’s ongoing and coordinated effort” to disrupt company business.





 

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