Shortly after retail powerhouse Wal-Mart of Bentonville, Arkansas, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming Black Friday walkouts by Wal-Mart employees qualified as illegal picketing, the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart quickly filed its own complaint stating that the walkouts were legally protected. The NLRB has since issued a statement temporarily allowing the walkouts while further investigations are conducted.
At the center of the controversy is the question whether the walkouts are part of a larger plan by the United Food and Commercial Workers to get Wal-Mart employees to unionize. The law under scrutiny is the National Labor Relations Act, which only allows a maximum of 30 days picketing before a unionization vote must occur. Though Wal-Mart employees have been staging walkouts since before Wal-Mart’s annual investors’ meeting in October, Organization United’s Wal-Mart representatives have repeatedly said that the walkouts are about employee dissatisfaction with meager wages, high health insurance costs and retaliatory practices in the workplace.
If the NLRB finds that the United Food and Commercial Workers orchestrated the walkouts, then Wal-Mart could have a case.