The busiest shopping day of the year is just days away, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is starting to panic.
Last month, workers from 28 Wal-Mart locations nationwide went on strike to protest the company’s efforts to “silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job,” according to a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) press release. Since then, Wal-Mart workers from more than 1,000 stories across the country have vowed to walk off the job on Black Friday to protest purportedly tough working conditions and low wages. Wal-Mart also is facing a proposed class action in which temporary workers claim the retailer and two staffing agencies have been violating federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws since 2009.
But Wal-Mart has decided to fight back. Last Thursday, the retailer filed a complaint again the UFCW in which it asks the National Labor Relations Board to issue an injunction that would prevent Wal-Mart workers from rallying and picketing. The workers who plan to protest are members of OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, a group that started in 2010 with financial support from the UFCW.
Wal-Mart claims OUR Walmart is seeking union recognition and, by law, can protest for only 30 days before collecting signatures for a vote, which it hasn’t done. “We cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates,” David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said in a letter to the UFCW. Meanwhile, OUR Walmart says its planned protests aren’t supporting unionization but are instead drawing attention to poor working conditions at Wal-Mart.
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