Tags: black | friday | strike | wal-mart

Black Friday Strike: Wal-Mart Counters Union Threats

Monday, 19 Nov 2012 12:26 PM

By Michael Mullins

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With Black Friday just days away, shoppers and retailers across the county are waiting with heightened anticipation to the deals and sales figures that await them the day after Thanksgiving.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, welcomes the annual sales fest with trepidation this year after threats of a thousand store strike planned for Friday loomed last week.

In response to the strike threats, Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The UFCW, one of the nation’s largest labor unions with 1.3 million members, is behind the work stoppage, Wal-Mart claims.

In its claim, Wal-Mart argued that the UFCW is unlawfully attempting to disrupt its business and requests that the NLRB investigate and quell the ever-growing protest.

Wal-Mart, which has more than 4,500 stores and 1.4 million U.S. employees, has for years successfully fought off union attempts to create inroads in the company’s workforce.

David Tovar, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, responded to the strike threats in an email.

"If [the store employees] are scheduled to work, we expect them to show up and do their job," he wrote. "If they don't, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences."

Tovar added that the protestors thus far represent a "very small minority" of its workforce.

“We are taking this action now because we cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates,” Tovar's statement explained.

The Black Friday walkout threat came courtesy of the union-backed organizations OUR Walmart and Making Change at Wal-Mart (MCW). Those employee coalitions have been battling Wal-Mart management for years in their attempts to unionize the workforce.

Last week, California warehouse workers and Seattle associates and managers joined the ongoing strike, which originated earlier in the month at a Wal-Mart location in Los Angeles.

Striking Wal-Mart employees are demanding a minimum hourly wage to be increased to $13, less-expensive healthcare plans and more predictable work schedules.

The average annual salary for a Wal-Mart associate is $15,500 according to MCW, based on a study by IBIS World, a market research company. According to Statisticbrain.com, Wal-mart brings in over $400 billion annually.

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