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: http://forrespect.org/ 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 sethsandronsky@gmail.com.


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

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”