Walmart unlawfully treated employees who protested at its stores in Richmond and Placerville in 2012, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ruled.
The ruling stemmed from a complaint filed by Our Walmart, a union-backed group of company employees demanding better wages, schedules and an end to worker mistreatment. None of Walmart’s employees are union members.
The company’s managers illegally intimidated, threatened and disciplined Richmond store workers for participating in Our Walmart strikes in 2012, according to the Tuesday decision from NLRB administrative law Judge Geoffrey Carter.
In a statement to the New York Times, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said the company does not agree with “some of the administrative law judge’s conclusions” and plans to appeal parts of the ruling to the full labor board in Washington D.C.
Many of the complaints against the Richmond store involved one manager who oversaw a store remodel project in 2012. The manager was heard calling his remodel team “lazy” and the worst remodeling crew he’s ever worked with, according to the ruling. After one worker put a rope around his waist to assist with moving a heavy counter, the manager allegedly stated: “If it was up to me, I would put that rope around your neck,” which employees later called racist and intimidating.
After several Richmond store employees returned to their work following an Our Walmart strike in October 2012, that same manager allegedly remarked, “If it were up to me, I’d shoot the union,” the ruling stated. The manager was also accused of illegally instructing other employees not to talk to the returning strikers and was quoted as saying the strikers would be looking for new jobs.
In November 2012, six workers who participated in an in-store work stoppage protest during the grand opening of the Richmond store remodel were allegedly disciplined. The group, which was joined by up to 10 non-employees in protesting in the customer service area, were subsequently instructed to conduct “coaching,” an action indicating their job performance had failed to meet “reasonable expectations and standards,” the ruling said.
Richmond store managers were also criticized for an unfair dress policy that prohibited employees from wearing “Our Walmart” shirts while permitting other violations of dress code policy.
Judge Carter ordered Walmart to stop intimidating workers and rescind disciplinary actions related to the six employees who had gone on strike.
“Walmart cannot continue its abuse of power any longer,” said Raymond Bravo, who at the time was an overnight maintenance worker. “Our families and our communities cannot thrive when companies like Walmart create an economy of low pay, erratic scheduling and illegal threats.”
In a separate case in January, NLRB’s general counsel charged Walmart in 14 states for disciplining or firing about 70 workers for participating in protests and strikes, the Times reported.
The NLRB has demanded that Walmart sign this form: