* Labor groups agree to no picketing for at least 60 days
* Groups do not intend to bargain on behalf of Wal-Mart
* Walmart says some prior union actions were illegal
By Jessica Wohl
Jan 31 Labor groups that have long spoken out
against Wal-Mart Stores Inc will stop much of their
picketing against the world's largest retailer, though they
still plan to continue to push the company to improve working
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union,
or UFCW, and OUR Walmart reached an agreement with the National
Labor Relations Board, the groups and Walmart U.S., said on
The labor groups claim that they were not trying to unionize
Walmart workers with their actions, which included a small
number of Walmart's more than 1.3 million U.S. employees
engaging in protests outside of Walmart stores.
The agreement comes after Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor
practice charge against the UFCW in November, asking the NLRB to
halt what the retailer said were unlawful attempts to disrupt
The UFCW and OUR Walmart - a UFCW-supported group of current
and former Wal-Mart workers - said that they do not intend to
have Wal-Mart recognize or bargain with them as the
representative of Wal-Mart employees.
Walmart said that many of the union's demonstrations and
pickets before Black Friday were illegal, a claim that the UFCW
denied. OUR Walmart said its protests were legally protected.
The UFCW and OUR Walmart will stop any unlawful
recognitional picketing, will stop encouraging unlawful
disruptions by other affiliated groups and will stop any
picketing at Walmart stores and facilities for at least 60 days.
Recognitional picketing is done to try to get an employer to
recognize a union as the bargaining representative for its
employees and is subject to certain restrictions under the
National Labor Relations Act.
The groups also said they would not fight it if the NLRB
sought a temporary injunction against any future activity that
it found to be the equivalent of picketing.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Wal-Mart filed with the NLRB after groups planned major
protests at its stores for Black Friday, a busy shopping day.
The NLRB did not issue any ruling before that day, and while
several protests took place they did not hurt sales, as the
Walmart chain of thousands of stores across the United States
said it had its best Black Friday ever.
The agreement is unlikely to make a huge difference to the
campaign, as OUR Walmart, the UFCW and others can still publicly
voice their concerns without doing anything that would be
legally defined as picketing, said John Logan, professor of
labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University.
OUR Walmart said the agreement does not limit its ability to
help employees in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights
and standards. The UFCW said that the pact allows the union to
continue its support of OUR Walmart and its supporters. The
groups said that they are not trying to unionize at Walmart.
"It seems to me they're trying to come very close to the
edge," said Ronald Meisburg, a partner at law firm Proskauer,
who was the NLRB's general counsel from 2006 to 2010 and also
served a recess appointment as a board member for one year.
The agreement is "a big victory for the company," he added.
In mid-January, Walmart said that it would give part-time
workers the first shot at full-time positions. It also plans to
make scheduling more transparent, giving part-time workers the
ability to choose more of their own hours.
"Walmart is hearing us and at least starting to make changes
that will improve the lives of workers and their families and
our communities, and we will continue to raise our voices until
there is real change at Walmart," Colby Harris, a member of OUR
Walmart from Dallas, said in a statement provided by the group.
Members of OUR Walmart pay dues of $5 per month.