Walmart Stomps Pro-Union Thought with Orwellian Tactics
Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published a number of Walmart’s internal training materials stolen by the hacker collective anonymous on how to discourage workers from coming together for action. The documents, demanding loyalty and that all signs of worker dissatisfaction be reported immediately, “would sound right at home in a training manual for prison guards, or as text from Brave New World,” in the words of Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan.
The report also documents how Walmart has tried to silence communities along with workers through:
• Restraining orders against protesters
• Selective enforcement of company policies in order to provide a pretext for disciplining or terminating activists
• Selective enforcement of the company’s solicitation policies in order to limit workers’ access to information about the benefits of organizing
• Illegal threats that workers would face serious consequences if they organized, including economic losses
• Illegal manipulation of store staffing in order to dilute support for organizing and union representation in the run-up to a union election
• Illegal information gathering including coercive interrogation, eavesdropping, and remote monitoring of workers via security cameras
TSA and Homeland Security Stratagy
The eerily Big Brother-esque documents have drawn comparisons to the TSA and Homeland security. As MSNBC wrote:
“If you see something, say something” is no longer just a motto for the Department of Homeland Security. It’s also how Walmart plans to snuff out labor organizing drives before they happen, according to internal company documents leaked on Tuesday.
The leaked documents not only reveal Walmart’s internal attitude and fear of its workers speaking out, but come at a particularly interesting moment, as the company has found itself at the center of multiple legal battles over its workers’ rights abuses.
On Sunday, the National Labor Relations Board leveraged the biggest complaint ever against Walmart for its illegal terminations and disciplinary actions taken against store workers who stood up on Black Friday and others that went on strike last summer. And just last week, a federal court in Los Angeles ruled that Walmart will have to face trial to determine if it is liable as a “joint-employer” for the abuses endured by the contracted warehouse workers who move its goods. According to the union Warehouse Workers United:
“Their lawsuit alleges that the workers who load and unload Walmart’s truck containers, many of whom have worked at these warehouses for years, were routinely forced to work off the clock, denied legally required overtime pay, and retaliated against when they tried to assert their legal rights, or even asked how their paychecks had been calculated.”
Walmart CEO Speaks Out
As Doug McMillon rose to the position of CEO this month, it will be time for Mr. McMillon to enact vast reform within company policy.
“Walmart’s aggressive anti-worker campaign is real, it is ugly, and unnecessary,” said Dominic Ware, an employee included in the NLRB complaint. He continued:
“Instead of spending money on these misleading and false campaigns to intimidate workers, Walmart should be focused on publicly committing to improving jobs, raising wages and making sure that workers are able to raise their concerns without fear of illegal retaliation. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, I hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to Associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs and publicly commit to ending illegal retaliation and suppressing workers’ rights.”