Labor Groups, NLRB Reach Wal-Mart Accord

As part of a settlement, labor groups on Thursday said they’ll end most of their demonstrations and picketing.

Labor groups on Thursday said they’ll end most of their demonstrations and picketing against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as well as refrain from pressuring the retail giant’s employees to choose the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union as a representative, as part of a settlement that was reached with the National Labor Relations Board.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The settlement agreement stems from a Nov. 16 unfair labor practice charge filed by Wal-Mart against the UFCW. At the height of the Christmas shopping season and culminating on one of its busiest days, Black Friday, Wal-Mart asked the NLRB to stop demonstrations and in-store “flash mobs” that the retailer called “unlawful attempts to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and store workers.”

The settlement will stop the picketing and demonstrations against Wal-Mart for 60 days. However, the unfair labor practice charge against the union will remain in place for several months as part of the settlement to hold the UFCW accountable should it violate the agreement during that time.

Our Wal-Mart, an organization of current and former Wal-Mart employees, pressing the retailer to improve labor rights and standards for workers, filed its own complaint with the NLRB, citing attempts by Wal-Mart to discourage workers from taking part in what the group referred to as legally protected walkouts.

The definition of picketing and whether the activity was aimed at winning acceptance for the union was at issue.

According to a letter signed by the UFCW’s general counsel, the union and Our Wal-Mart agreed to the conditions “without admitting that they have engaged in any conduct that constitutes unfair labor practices.” The two organizations also agreed to “stop encouraging unlawful disruptions by nearly 30 affiliated groups,” including International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO, Jobs with Justice and Service Employees International Union.

The UFCW and Our Wal-Mart said they removed several documents from their Web sites, including the united demands document that outlines the groups’ demands to Wal-Mart and the Walton family, which include providing minimum pay for all Wal-Mart associates of $25,000 a year.

“This is good news for our associates, who asked us to stand up to this conduct because they understand better than anyone the opportunities Wal-Mart offers,” the retailer said.