Walmart emerged victorious late last week when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sided with the retail giant in a case from 2013. NLRB said Walmart had the right to terminate employees who missed work for nearly a full week in 2013 to protest at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting in Fayetteville.
The workers were terminated for violating the company’s attendance policy in June 2013 and other walk-outs around Black Friday in November 2012. Roughly 100 Walmart employees walked off the job during the busiest shopping season of the year. Another 100 or so missed five to six days of work to protest at the shareholder meeting in June 2013. Roughly half of those who demonstrated at the shareholder meeting were disciplined or terminated. The protestors were organized by OUR Walmart, a group sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
This NLRB opinion reverses a 2016 ruling that went against Walmart by an administrative law judge.
NRLB said the walkouts are not protected because they are a series of protests and not a bona fide strike. The board said the workers cannot escape discipline by the employer if they are warned, miss work to strike, return to work only to plan to strike again in a few weeks. The Board said this constitutes “Intermittent strikes” which are prohibited by the NRLB.
Walmart said the company is pleased with the NLRB ruling and reaffirms the law that has stood for decades.
“Our position from the beginning is that we acted lawfully and respectfully, and this decision shows that the board agreed,” Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg noted to the media.
Phillip Wilson, president and general counsel of the Labor Relations Institute in Broken Arrow, Okla., said the board’s decision was a “rational way to treat this intermittent strike behavior, which is becoming increasingly a strategy exploited by unions.”
OUR Walmart has made no public comment following the ruling.