NLRB Rules UFCW Our Walmart Black Friday $50 Specials Legal

National Labor Relations Board rules United Food and Commercial Workers Union Worker Center Our Walmart $50 gift cards to 2012 Black Friday protesters legal

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Last year, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) worker center, Our Walmart, organized strikes against Walmarts during arguably the biggest sale day of the year- Black Friday. As we wrote before, the illegal picketing case Walmart had charged was being held in abeyance, on the condition that the UFCW did not continue their protests. However some charges remained, and the NLRB has authorized complaints against Walmart unless further negotiation settles things.

The NLRB has also advised that some challenged actions by Our Walmart were legal, in particular, where the UFCW paid off employees to protest with $50 gift cards:

The National Labor Relations Board concluded in a recent advice memorandum that the United Food & Commercial Workers union didn’t violate federal labor law when it offered $50 gift cards to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. workers who agreed to go on strike on Black Friday 2012.

So the best Black Friday Special at Walmart may be employee-only: walk off the job and hold a sign, get a $50 gift card for free. Ironically, this is a special that prospective Walmart customers should hope isn’t taken advantage of. If a high number of Walmart employees walk off the job, that could spell disaster in stores across the country. Black Friday is commonly recognized as one of the most competitive days for shoppers, and tensions are already high. Add in significantly longer lines, and it could spell panic and hysteria.

However, this Black Friday Special may be the best way for the UFCW to get Walmart associates to walk off the job. It seems that if they’re depending on organizational strength and current interest, they may not get far:

Wilson’s organization sent observers to labor union meetings designed to plan and promote the Black Friday walkouts in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Raleigh. Although touted by union leaders as crucial to the strike’s success, according to Wilson nearly no one attended the events. Only two union activists – not Walmart employees – showed up to the Chicago meeting on November 12. Just four managed to make it to Pittsburgh’s strike planning committee this Wednesday. And an expected meeting in Raleigh earlier this month was cancelled, apparently due to a complete lack of interest.

The article goes on to explain that last year’s protests give no strong indication that this year’s protests will be any better, as turnout for the protests was comparatively miniscule.

“The idea that there’s this mass uprising of Walmart employees trying to unionize the stores when they can’t get more than 500 of them to actually turn out is ridiculous – just an absolute joke,” he concluded.

Even the NLRB had to admit that in one of the cases they heard, not a single Walmart associate identified themselves at one protest, where they later claimed their rights had been violated. According to the advice memo, their rights were not violated because no single protester identified themselves as associates, and none of the managers could identify someone employed at Walmart:

None of the 50 demonstrators identified him or herself as a Wal-Mart Associate, and there is no evidence that managers recognized any member of the group as a Wal- Mart Associate when they were demonstrating on private property and were asked to leave.

Perhaps the best course of action would be for Our Walmart to spend the $50 on outside protesters. That strategy has certainly been proven to work for the UFCW in the past.

The good news is that this Black Friday Special- while ruled legal- may not cause as many headaches for customers as the UFCW would like. And this is one special that shoppers will be all too happy to miss out on.