WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to illegal threats from Walmart managers and the company’s national spokesperson, OUR Walmart has filed a charge with the federal government seeking immediate intervention. The charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday afternoon, cites threats by Walmart to attempt to deter workers from participating in legally protected strikes planned for this week, including on Black Friday. OUR Walmart is an organization of Walmart workers from across the country who are calling for changes at Walmart.
“Home office gave me the freedom to say whatever I want. If any one of you walks off the job or participates in an action on Black Friday that results in the loss of store sales you will be fired and sued.”
“I want to send a clear message to Walmart: we will not be silenced,” said Mary Pat Tifft, an OUR Walmart member and 24-year Walmart associate from Kenosha, WI. “As America’s largest employer, we should expect more than threats to our jobs when we speak out for what’s right. Walmart’s attempt to shut down our protests is one more example of the company’s efforts to silence any opposition that they face. We will continue to speak out because there are real problems at Walmart that need to be addressed.”
"We are working hard, trying to get ahead and create a better future for our kids," Tifft said. "You would think that we'd be able to do that at the country's largest employer, but when we speak out about our concerns, Walmart has been trying to silence us."
The planned strikes, which OUR Walmart members announced would be part of 1,000 store protests on and leading up to Black Friday, are in protest of Walmart’s ongoing attempts to silence workers for speaking out for better jobs. Because the planned strikes are in protest to unfair labor practices like silencing workers through scheduling changes, reductions in hours, and even firings, workers are legally protected under federal labor law.
“Freedom of speech and freedom of association are basic rights for all Americans,” said Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “We cannot allow our country’s largest employer to threaten their employees' rights in closed-door meetings or in the national news media. Walmart workers should know that we support them.”
On Monday evening, Walmart spokesperson David Tovar made threats to Walmart workers on national television. “There could be consequences,” Tovar said on CBS Evening News of workers who do not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.
“I saw David Tovar from Walmart on the evening news telling me and my coworkers that there would be consequences if we went on strike," said Dan Hindman, an OUR Walmart member from California who was interviewed on CBS Evening News. "Yes, some of my coworkers are afraid, but this kind of intimidation by Walmart management is an example of why we are going on strike. I know my rights, and I’m not afraid to protest against the way this company has retaliated against workers who are speaking out for what's good for our families.”
In stores across the country, workers have been facing threats from managers. Workers from a store in Fairfield, Calif., recount their manager telling them: “Home office gave me the freedom to say whatever I want. If any one of you walks off the job or participates in an action on Black Friday that results in the loss of store sales you will be fired and sued.”
“Walmart appears to be issuing serious threats to employees to stop them from exercising their rights under the law,” said Erin Johansson, Research Director, American Rights at Work. “These charges should be investigated swiftly by the NLRB as concerted activity is a protected right. Walmart's breach here is serious, and needs to be addressed immediately.”
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and their discrimination against women and people of color, but rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence them. Some workers have also been speaking out about the early start of Black Friday sales – on Thanksgiving Day –which will keep many retail workers from being able to spend the holiday with their families. Watch a video from Walmart workers on why they’re standing up or follow the conversation on Twitter at #WalmartStrikers.