By: Bryan R. Bienias
Yet another unfair labor practice complaint has been issued stemming from the rash of protests in late 2012 by union-backed groups such as OURWalmart at a number of Wal-Mart locations across the country.
On Thursday, April 3rd, the regional director for Region 7 out of Detroit, Michigan issued the complaint, alleging that the United Food and Commercial Workers union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the NLRA by restraining and coercing Wal-Mart employees during a 2012 Black Friday protest at a store in Dearborn, Michigan.
According to the complaint, during the hectic kickoff to the 2012 holiday shopping season, an organizing director for UFCW Local 876 and an Occupy Detroit activist, along with 50 to 80 other individuals stormed the store’s electronics department and remained for roughly 20 minutes without the retailer’s permission, apparently not to browse the store’s door-busting deals.
The protestors allegedly blocked the entrance and exit to the electronics department, interfering with the work of Wal-Mart employees who were on-duty.
During the excitement, a group of approximately seven women and one man decided to take a “bathroom break” of sorts in the women’s rest room, where they allegedly interrogated another employee regarding her wages, hours, and working conditions.
These sorts of tactics have been par for the course for these groups. State courts have also taken heed, with at least two judges in Arkansas and California issuing preliminary injunctions against UFCW and OURWalmart following the groups’ activities in and around Wal-Mart stores.
This most recent complaint also follows on the heels of another consolidated complaint issued in January 2014 against Wal-Mart for alleged unfair labor practices against more than 60 employees, 19 of whom were discharged following the November 2012 protests. This time, however, the UFCW is on the defensive.
As groups such as OURWalmart and Fight for 15 continue their activities against retailers and fast food locations across the nation, employers can take some solace in the idea that certain regional directors and judges may not view the groups’ tactics as without limitation, particularly where they border on harassment of other employees and brazenly interfere with their work duties.
A hearing on the NLRB complaint is scheduled to take before an ALJ on June 12.