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NLRB Decisions Admonish Walmart, McDonald’s for Retaliatory Behavior, Union Obstruction

Fight for 15 Mcdonalds NLRB

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At the end of 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled against two major American companies in retaliation cases. This signaled a strong finish to a worker-supportive year for the board, something which the incoming Republican majority says it will try to prevent henceforth through the National Labor Relations Board Refort Act

But before the butchering of rights begins, the board is doing what it knows it must: stifling the stiflers. In California, an administrative judge ruled in favor of workers who complained they were unfairly disciplined for trying to organize employees at WalMart stores in Placerville and Richmond.  Via Reuters:

Geoffrey Carter, National Labor Relations Board Administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., told the company to stop applying pressure on employees to discourage work stoppages, adding the Richmond, California, Walmart managers told workers they would“shoot the union” and said that employees returning from a strike “would be looking for new jobs.”

The judge also ordered the company to change its dress code for California employees that restricted employees’ ability to wear union shirts.

WalMart says it is weighing its options, but will likely appeal the decision.  Company spokesman Kory Lundberg told Reuters, “We do not agree with some of the administrative law judge’s conclusions.”

The decisions by Judge Carter were the first to address OUR WalMart, the organization fighting for better pay and health benefits in all of WalMart’s 4,000+ stores.  While it is unknown how other judges will rule in similar complaints, Carter’s decision sets a precedent and provides much needed momentum for OUR WalMart.

In a case involving another American behemoth, McDonald’s, the NLRB ruled in favor of workers who faced retaliation after participating in events organized by the Fight for 15 movement, which wants to raise wages at fast food restaurants. The alleged labor violations took place in Manhattan, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.  All in all, the NLRB’s general counsel issued 13 complaints encompassing 78 charges in regional offices across the country.

The interesting aspect to these cases is that the complaints name both McDonald’s and the involved franchise owners. The concept of considering McDonald’s a “joint employer” has the industry shaking in it boots. Currently 90 percent of McDonald’s’ 14,000 U.S. restaurants are franchise operations.  

McDonald’s called the decision an “overreach”, while the Chamber of Commerce and National Restaurant Association turned on the fear-mongering jets suggesting “hundreds of thousands of layoffs” could result from disrupting the clearly anti-worker franchising system.

But the big business lobbies may soon have their day in the sun, even if it only lasts for the terms of the newest Senate and House members. The National Labor Relations Board Reform Act is being paraded alongside the The Protecting American Jobs Act and the Union Transparency Act, which would collectively cripple the labor community.


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