Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The NLRB’s Labor Law Complaint Against Wal-Mart


Did David just stagger Goliath? Yes, but this fight between capital and labor is not over.

On January 15, the Office of the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a “consolidated complaint” against behemoth retailer Wal-Mart, alleging it violated the National Labor Relations Act in deeds and words against Barbara Collins, 37, and other employees who took part in protests and strikes.

The NLRB complaint reads: “During two national television news broadcasts and in statements to employees at Walmart stores in California and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests; At stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington, Walmart unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests; At stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined, and/or terminated employees in anticipation of or in response to employees’ other protected concerted activities.”

Wal-Mart has until Jan. 28 to respond, with no hearing date scheduled yet.

The company fired Collins of Placerville, CA (east of Sacramento), and other employees in 14 states who protested Wal-Mart’s labor practices and policies. She wants the global retailer to be accountable for its actions.

“We want to be reinstated, receive back pay, and have Wal-Mart post federal labor laws covering the rights of my co-workers and me to speak out at work,” she said by phone.

Outwardly, Collins is an ordinary person. She is a parent of a teen girl, and pre-teen boy. Yet her workplace experience and response to it is extraordinary.

To this end, Collins became a member of OUR Walmart in June 2011: She with other OUR Walmart members, and help from the United Food and Commercial Workers union, are collectively resisting the labor conditions of the world’s largest private-sector employer.

This low-wage retail workers’ campaign began after the Occupy Wall St. movement emerged, popularizing the language opposing an economic system that gorges the top one percent, and harms the bottom 99 percent. The Occupy movement’s audacious protests gave wind to the sails of OUR Walmart’s demands for better jobs.

In no small way, Collins personifies a trend of U.S. labor politics, resistance to at-will, union-free employment. Against a history of U.S. working-class demobilization and upward income redistribution, she is a strong voice of a national grassroots movement for improved labor standards as precarious work conditions plague the economy.

OUR Walmart received a hand from Jobs With Justice, a national labor-community group with local chapters. “We’re glad the NLRB is taking action,” said Sarita Gupta, who helms JwJ.

Wal-Mart has deep pockets to fight the demands of its dissident workers and their backers. The global company personifies capital, which grows by running roughshod over labor, which OUR Walmart opposes.

Society’s top dogs, as author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass noted 150 years ago, concede zero without demands from underdogs. Class struggle then and now is the name of the game.

Seth Sandronsky is a journalist in Sacramento. Email


Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”