The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made history yesterday after slapping Walmart with the company’s largest ever complaint that includes grievances from at least 114 former employees, and spanning over 14 states. Named in the complaint are 63 different Walmart store managers and company spokespersons, and reaches right up into the executive offices of Vice President of Communication, David Tovar. To call this historic almost seems like an understatement.
Immediately after the announcement was made by the NLRB, a statement was released on the Making Change at Walmart website trumpeting the decision and reminding everyone just what is at stake over Walmart’s insistence on paying its employee near slave labor wages.
“Walmart workers, part of the national organization OUR Walmart, have been taking the country’s income inequality head on by standing up for better wages at the country’s largest employer,” the press release stated. “While the majority of Walmart associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart makes $17 billion in annual profits and the Waltons—the richest family in the country—have a combined wealth of $144.7 billion.”
The complaint announced yesterday stems from charges that were filed against Walmart in the lead up to Black Friday 2012 when legally striking employees were threatened and intimidated by Walmart management and by Walmart spokesperson David Tovar who hinted “there could be consequences” for employees who did not show up to work.
One of those employees, who exercised her legal right to strike and was fired for doing so during Black Friday 2012 had her chance to speak out in the press release from Making Change at Walmart.
[box type=”shadow”]“Walmart thinks it can scare us with attacks to keep us from having a real conversation about the poverty wages we’re paid,” said Barbara Collins a fired Walmart worker from Placerville, CA, who is one of the 117 workers named in the complaint. “But too much is at stake—the strength of our economy and the security of our families—to stay silent about why Walmart needs to improve jobs. Now the federal government is confirming what we already know: we have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my coworkers illegally. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, we hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs.”[/box]
And what would an announcement like this from the NLRB be without an expected overly smug and dismissive rebuke from Walmart? In a public statement they had very little to say:
“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.”
And when they do get to step in front of a judge, Walmart will be going up against ex-employees like Colby Harris who was fired from his job in Lancaster, Texas for simply speaking up for all Americans asking for fair wages.
[box type=”shadow”]”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.”[/box]