Ahead of a massive strike organized by labor opponents on Black Friday—the most profitable shopping day of the year, Wal-Mart filed a suit with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board to shut down protests and “flash mobs” against it, according to court documents.
The world’s largest retailer alleges that the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), one of the largest in the country, is illegally disrupting business by organizing the strike and related protests.
Wal-Mart, which employs 1.4 million people in the United States, said the UFCW “has violated and continues to violate” federal law “by picketing and threatening to picket Wal-Mart headquarters and numerous Walmart locations and other facilities in various states, together with mass demonstrations, in-store ‘flash mobs,’ and tresspass on Wal-Mart property,” according to court documents filed last week. The union also has intimidated store employees and customers, it claims.
Last month, a strike at a Walmart in Los Angeles spread around to locations in a dozen other cities, with many workers demanding better pay, better schedules, and more affordable health care.
“We will not allow Wal-Mart to scare us into silence by threatening legal action against organizations that support us. America gives us the right to strike against unlawful retaliation and the right to protest,” reads a Facebook posting by the Organization United for Respect, also known as OURWalmart, a subsidiary of the UFCW that is organizing the protests. Groups Making Change at Wal-Mart and the watchdog group, Corporate Action Network, are also organizing the protests and walkout.
The group said it would continue protesting “throughout the holiday season, including Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when tens of millions of Americans will flock to retailers to purchase items for Christmas or to take advantage of offered discounts.
Earlier, Mary Pat Tifft, the head of OURWalmart, stated that the walkout on Friday is because on “Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, many Walmart workers have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing for doors to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.”
On Moveon.org, more than 32,000 people signed a petition asking Wal-Mart to allow its employees to take Thanksgiving off.
“Our country needs Walmart and big corporations to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” the petition reads.
But in the suit, Wal-Mart claims OURWalmart and the UFCW are trying to get its employees to sign a collective bargaining agreement even though it is not the official union used by the retailer.
David Tovar, a spokesman with Walmart, told CNN that workers that are partaking in the Black Friday boycott is a small minority.
“If [the store employees] are scheduled to work, we expect them to show up and do their job. If they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences,” Tovar was quoted as saying.
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