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Germanos reports: "In what some see as an attempt to muzzle critics, Walmart is suing a union and other groups over protests that sought to highlight the retail behemoth's low pay and poor working conditions."

The first-ever one-day strike of Walmart workers in Puget Sound, 11/15/12. (photo: OURWalmart/flickr)
The first-ever one-day strike of Walmart workers in Puget Sound, 11/15/12. (photo: OURWalmart/flickr)

Walmart Sues Groups For Protesting Its Poor Working Conditions

By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

27 March 13


n what some see as an attempt to muzzle critics, Walmart is suing a union and other groups over protests that sought to highlight the retail behemoth's low pay and poor working conditions.

The lawsuit targets the 1.3 million-strong United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), OUR Walmart, which is made up of "associates" of Walmart, and another group over repeated protest actions in over a dozen states, Bloomberg reports.

Walmart's suit seeks to stop the groups from being able to picket or protest on its property, Bloomberg reports. Reuters adds:

Wal-Mart alleged that the defendants violated Florida law through coordinated, statewide acts of trespass in several Walmart stores over the last eight months.

What the suit is really about, say some of the defendants, is silencing criticism of Walmart's corporate, and union-preventing, model.

"Rather than creating good jobs with steady hours and affordable healthcare, Walmart's pattern is to focus its energies on infringing on our freedom of speech," Reuters reports OUR Walmart as saying in a statement.

Denise Diaz, executive director of Central Florida Jobs With Justice, said, "This is another attempt on Wal-Mart's behalf of ... silencing their employees and also the communities that support them."

And Walmart may indeed see OUR Walmart as a thorn in its side, as Andy Kroll writes in Mother Jones:

On Black Friday last year, it helped organize protests at nearly 100 Walmart stores in 46 states. An estimated 500 associates walked off the job on the biggest shopping day of the year. Walmart, already facing allegations of bribery in Mexico and unsafe working conditions at its Asian suppliers, asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to block the protests, saying OUR Walmart was a union front. Store managers received a confidential memo (PDF) on dealing with restive employees (talking point: "I don't think a walkout is a good way to resolve problems or issues, especially because it interferes with customer service and other associates who want to work"). A company spokesman said on national TV that if workers didn't show up on Black Friday, "there could be consequences."

The case, Wal-Mart Stores Inc v. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union et al, merits wide attention, as Josh Eidelson has previously written in The Nation:

Even though Walmart employs just under 1 percent of the American workforce, most of us live in the Walmart economy. Its model has been forced on contractors and suppliers, adopted by competitors and mimicked across industries. your social media marketing partner


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+43 # Walter J Smith 2013-03-27 20:30
Poor Wal-Mart.

The Goliath that goes whining to stop David from using his sling shots.
+37 # coach777b 2013-03-27 21:56
Quoting Walter J Smith:
Poor Wal-Mart.

The Goliath that goes whining to stop David from using his sling shots.

And who do these people who HATE the government, whine to about their employees looking for humane treatment? The Government!
+29 # David Allen 2013-03-27 22:36
It is for THIS reason, and this reason alone, that I will never ever again set foot in a Wal-Mart store. I visited our local Wal-Mart store in Lacey, Washington, several YEARS ago I found the roducts to be sleazy, mostly asian goods, and precious few American made goods. I now shop at COSTCO down the road from Wal-Mart. COSTCO pays a fair wage to their workers, provides health insurance, and has good relations with their eployees.
+1 # ghostperson 2013-03-31 01:13
Yeah, it's just like Wall St. CEO's admit. It's laissez-faire until they get into deep shit then its straight up sugar tit at taxpayers' expense.

Big Finance should get the same deals the World Bank gives countries that are in the economic toilet.
+27 # Art947 2013-03-27 23:34
Until we all take a pledge (ala Norquist) to NEVER shop at Walmart until it treats its employees correctly, then we can always expect this type of behavior. It is time to treat the Walton family members as traitors to the principles of America!
+20 # cafetomo 2013-03-28 00:28
Cheaper to crush a union, than pay a worker. Free speech is no match for paid lawyers.
+27 # Cdesignpdx 2013-03-28 00:47
Never, ever enter a Walmart store. Don't even turn around in one of their their parking lots.
They are one more institution that has rigged the tax laws that harm middle America so much that we are driven to their aisles. "Sign here senator," while pulling on a handle-bar mustache.
Dumping the cost of low cost on what's 'left' of us.
+20 # Nominae 2013-03-28 03:10
Walmart is simply taking a very successful page out of the strategies of both Monsanto and Scientology.

Just sue the beejeezus out of everyone and everything, and when the dust clears, see who can still afford to be standing.
+10 # MidwestTom 2013-03-28 10:13
Just shop elsewhere. We are all too small to challenge them.
+8 # dkonstruction 2013-03-29 09:32
Quoting MidwestTom:
Just shop elsewhere. We are all too small to challenge them.

Some people said the same thing about Nestle when the boycotts were first organized to get them to stop pushing their baby formula in developing countries (and "educating" women to use it instead of breast feeding). It took a long time but Nestle finally changed their practice. And, how many years did I not eat grapes as a kid in support of the boycott in support of the Farm Workers unionization efforts. And, there are many other examples of fights that seemed "to big to win" from ending slavery and Jim Crow in this country to Apartheid in South Africa, etc. So, shop elsewhere; yes, of course. But, this doesn't mean at the same time that we cannot challenge and ultimately win a fight against Walmart or any other corporate scum.

So, will this be easy. No? Will it take a long time? Perhaps. But to say "we are too small to challenge them" is simply defeatist and not necessarily true based on many real world historical examples.
+6 # balconesfalk 2013-03-29 08:16
The government ought to sue them for paying their workers so little that the society has to pick up the tab for the food stamps workers qualify for earning the pathetic wages WalMart pays as a matter of course.
+5 # bobaka 2013-03-29 11:25
So, modern humans produce nothing to directly satisfy their life needs. They go to the corporate outlet owned and evolved by unregulated private capitalists. All aspects of human social need is exploited. What is urbanization? The dis-posession of the means to provide for oneself. So you go to the capitalist for food and he poisons you and thereby accomplishes many results: early painful deaths for the masses, and, therefore, no adult energy exerted to stop the elitist rape of the lobotomized modern common man.You reduce individuals to psychosis by raping them and abusing them as infants and children and they grow up to shop at Walmart and Safeway. They take pills to surpress tumors and wait for another Jesus. Time passes. Those who know anything die, and a thousand tv stations broadcast fantasy which are waking dreams of compensation.
0 # michelle 2013-03-30 15:26
"What is urbanization? The dis-posession of the means to provide for oneself."

Oh man, now that is 'food for thought.' Brilliant observation. I am emailing your comment to many friends.
+4 # countrycarrie31 2013-03-29 13:38
All I can say is Sam Walton must be rolling over in his grave to see how his children are handling his company. My husband has worked at Walmart for 12 years. At first he was treated well and the benefits were decent. Ever since Sam passed all we see is cut cut cut! Bonuses? Thing of the past. Associates? Not anymore. Insurance? Horrible!! All they care about these days is the almighty buck. Absolutely disgusting. They are not too big to go down and I see it coming a mile away.
+2 # turtleislander 2013-03-30 06:49
I went into a Walmart once. I bought nothing and found the whole place depressing and full of crappy merchandise and mostly sad staff.
Costco, it is true, treats employees with a decent wage and benefits so their cost of doing business is not off-loaded onto the society as a whole. Since neither Walmart, nor some supermarkets like Market Basket (DeMoulas) are NOT paying the cost of doing business by forcing their employees to get food stamps and MedicAid for health care, their cost of doing business is being loaded onto taxpayers.
+3 # ghostperson 2013-03-30 12:18
How ironic is that, Walmart, a corporate person, with 1st Amendment rights, sues real people, homo sapiens, to deny them free speech.
+1 # flippancy 2013-03-30 14:02
Walmart desparately needs to have theri corporate charter revoked and pay a fine large enough to help small retailers recover from the damage they have caused. The Walton pigs should be fined enough to repay all the government funds paid to help their underpaid employees survive.
0 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-04-04 13:28
Walmart has eliminated far more jobs in this country than it has created! The Waltons are greedy to the point of evil! Sam was not like his children very much.

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