On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board issued a historic complaint against Walmart for the company’s activities against its employees. The complaint, the largest ever issues against Walmart, alleges that Walmart illegally fired around 70 workers due to their speaking out for better wages and working conditions. The complaint names more than 60 store managers and spokespeople across 34 stores in 14 states. It also named Walmart’s vice president of communication, David Tovar.
OUR Walmart released a statement shortly after the NLRB’s announcement was made. OUR Walmart is a national organization of Walmart workers that works towards getting living wages, better benefits and improved working conditions for the company’s employees. The press release included a moving statement from Colby Harris, one of the workers fired for voicing his opinion.
“Walmart workers like me are calling for better jobs for all Americans. It’s not right that so many of us are struggling to get by on less than $25,000 a year while the Waltons have more wealth than 42% of American families combined. Today the federal government confirmed that Walmart is not above the law, will be held accountable, and I have rights.”
This complaint that has been filed should hopefully open the door for full-time workers at Walmart to make at least $25,000 a year with some basic benefits. Also, if Walmart is found liable, the improperly fired workers will most likely receive back pay and their jobs back. However, one extremely important development from all of this should be that Walmart will be unable to discipline or fire any of their workers for organizing labor activity or strikes. A positive ruling in court will prevent Walmart from retaliating against its employees in the future. Perhaps even just having this complaint filed will make the company’s management think twice before intimidating workers.
At this time, Walmart appears to be ready to fight the complaint in court. They actually had the opportunity to address this matter directly with the NLRB and perhaps even come to a settlement. However, the nation’s largest corporation decided against that and wanted to see if action would be taken against them. That is indeed what occurred. The company released a short statement on Wednesday:
“We look forward to shedding light on the facts of the situation. Again, this is just a procedural step – it provides us the opportunity to speak in front of a judge.”
Nothing yet has been fully accomplished as a court date still looms. But it looks like the NLRB is actually serving its intended purpose–to protect worker’s rights and prevent abuse from the hands of employers. By standing up to a large corporation like Walmart, which profits mightily by paying its workers very little, the NLRB is making a statement to the rest of corporate America.