Did Unions Pay Wal-Mart Workers To Strike? | VALID | #TWIBnation

Did Unions Pay Wal-Mart Workers To Strike?

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Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer and one of the highest-profile anti-union corporations, has recently circulated the lie that  large unions have begun paying Wal-Mart workers to get them to go on strike. What’s actually happening is that unions are maintaining the long tradition of supplementing striking workers’ lost wages. Unions, especially large ones, maintain “strike funds“, money that is specifically intended to help striking workers pay for living expenses while they are not receiving paychecks. Strike funds are important to workers’ efforts to gain more rights on the job for obvious reasons: strikes are a great bargaining tool, but in order to make them last long enough to be effective, there has to be a way for workers to make ends meet for their families. So, as the National Labor Relations Board made clear in a November 15, 2013 ruling, paying workers while they strike is perfectly legal.

You know what’s not legal? Retaliating against employees who try to form a union, which Wal-Mart does consistently. Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart, or “OUR Wal-Mart“, an independent, not-for-profit organization for hourly Associates of Wal-Mart stores, has long reported illegal retaliatory activity against its members. Tensions have mounted even higher since large unions started to lend their support to Wal-Mart workers’ efforts to secure a living wage and better working conditions. Last week, on Black Friday, employees participated in demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores across the country. These protests, together with those of fast food workers and others, are evidence that a message of economic populism and worker’s rights is gaining steam from the grassroots. This trend marks a sharp turnaround from “Right-to-Work”, a.k.a. anti-union, efforts by state governments all across the country over the past decade, which have brought union membership among American workers to its lowest point in 97 years. Even with the support of major unions, employees such as Wal-Mart’s have a long fight ahead to improve the quality of their jobs. History is repeating itself but we can only hope that, as they did in the Progressive Era, workers’ efforts will succeed, even against behemoths like Wal-Mart.

Rad-Femme Lawyer

Rad-Femme Lawyer is a practicing litigator living in Chicago, and a contributor of legal information and opinions to #TWiBNation, Her professional concentrations are commercial and securities litigation, and she also does pro bono work in special education access and employment discrimination.

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