Walmart is Suing the DFW Union Workers Who Have Been Protesting Their Stores

Categories: Legal Battles

WalmartStriker.jpg
Danny Hurley
Protesters picket the Walmart at 3155 Wheatland Road on Black Friday.
For almost two years now, like an angry minnow nibbling at a whale, a coalition of labor groups operating as OURWalmart has been organizing nationwide protests against the retail giant, complaining of low wages, terrible benefits and the company's general hostility toward organized labor.

It started in late 2011, when activists plastered the shelves and displays of an Irving store with some 2,000 flyers. Then there was that walkout last October, then the Black Friday strike.

But it seems to have been the group's "National Week of Action," which took up the first part of June, that caused the whale to resolve to finally crush the minnow.

The retailer sued OURWalmart and a handful of unions in Tarrant County claiming that their shenanigans have crossed the line from legally protected labor demonstrations to illegal disruption of a private business.

See also
-Wal-Mart Associates in Dallas Walk Off Job, Protest Suckiness of Working at Wal-Mart

Over the last year or so, Defendants have violated Texas law through coordinated statewide acts of trespass. Defendants enter onto Walmart's private property (and oftentimes inside Walmart stores), disrupt operations, refuse to leave when instructed to do so by Walmart management, and leave only when forced to by police or the threat of police intervention. They have blocked ingress and egress to parking lots, parking spaces, vehicular traffic, and store entracnes. They have screamed through bullhorns, paraded around with banners and signs on sticks, conducted in-store "flash mobs," and diverted management and local police from their normal job functions.

Walmart has been cataloging their transgressions with the care of someone contemplating a lawsuit for a long time. On May 24, 2012, demonstrators video bombed a Dallas store by projecting "huge anti-Walmart videos on the side of the store's walls and blar[ing] loud music from a Dodge Nitro van adorned with OURWalmart logos and equipped with video and audio devices."

The same Dodge Nitro showed up at a Lake Worth store for a video bombing, this time blocking the fire lane. Similar things happened in Ennis and Lancaster. Meanwhile, in Florida, demonstrators chanted "Walmart, Walmart ... fuck you!" In front of their own children, no less.

But all that pales in comparison to what happened in Dallas on Black Friday. Walmarts' lawyers write: "On a boom box, and dressed in Halloweed costumes, they blared the song 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson as they patrolled around the cash registers and apparel departments, threw OURWalmart cards towards associates and customers, yelled anti-Walmart slogans, and blocked the shopping aisles."

Walmart has filed similar lawsuits elsewhere in the country. Labor leaders have responded with defiance. "With $16 billion in annual profits, Walmart can afford to create good jobs for workers at its stores," one group, Jobs with Justice, wrote on its website. "But instead of creating good jobs with steady hours and affordable healthcare, Walmart is focusing its energies on infringing on freedom of speech."

Because if the First Amendment means anything, it's that people can blast "Thriller" wherever they damn well please.


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74 comments
Obummer
Obummer

Yo as long as Sandra Fluke be get’in her free birf controls pills what diff’ do it make?

ruddski
ruddski

The problem isn't Walmart, the problem is capitalism. Marx warned us of the dangers.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Why is the debate on Walmart salary and hiring?  The issue is whether you have some special permission to go into a place of business and disrupt it.  The bottom line is you don't and the courts will exact penalties on organizations that think otherwise.  These groups better spend less time firing back replies on web sites and more time shoveling assets somewhere they think Wal-Mart and judge will not find them.

As for the individuals, just arrest a couple for trespassing.  Give them a criminal record and tell them "Happy Motoring."

Unless someone's life is in danger or you have valid government action you need to perform, you obey the rules on private property or leave.  If you cause a disturbance or damage, you go to jail.

russp
russp

Oh so much bitching about WalMart but there never seems to be a shortage of customers or employees in any of their stores so what's the real story. I'm guessing not enough money to support the union when they start trying to take 25% of the workers pay in dues and benefits.

Antonio De La Torre
Antonio De La Torre

I'm sorry but if you do not have the education, skill set, or training that would allow you to earn a high paying job, do honestly think you will have a high paying job at Wal-Mart? If you do not like the situation you are in, only you can change it. With all the time and energy you spend thinking how to protest, take a class to increase your marketability. Hardly anyone now wants to earn what they have, they expect it to be handed to them.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I agree that Walmart creates jobs, but "good" jobs?  Give me a break.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

I'm certain the Unions work very, very hard to insure WalMart follows the letter of the law in how WalMart deals with them and the employees.

Not too surprising that WalMart is working just as hard to insure that the Unions follow the letter of the law as well.

Nobody is forced to work at WalMart, if they find the pay too low or the hours not to their liking they are free to look somewhere else.

Just like we as consumers don't have to shop in those cavernous, ridiculously spread out behemoth stores if we'd rather not.

James080
James080

I don't weigh enough to shop or work at Wal-Mart.

gmit
gmit

Anyone else notice what is going on with the package liquor store business in Dallas ? 

We all welcome the Mega Giant Superstores, then it starts to impact your neighborhood store and next thing you know your only choice is that Mega Giant Superstore


ruddski
ruddski

Walmart has about two million employees, but I can't find how many fine goons belong to OURwalmart - it might number in the hundreds.

As in Wisconsin, where the Unions were sliced and diced by Governor Hitler, they're going to lose.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Unions did a great job on the Post Office.

and the auto industry

and the airline industry

and Hoffa.

James080
James080

@ruddski  

Isn't it ironic that the largest retail company in the world gets most of its product from the largest communist company in the world.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@russp I worked at Kroger when I was a teenager, and was really pressured into joining the union when they were hiring me.  Ended up paying union dues out of my minimum wage $4.25 per hour salary.  What a joke.  

crimjunkie
crimjunkie

@Antonio De La Torre Comments that start with "I'm sorry but" almost always end in "fuck you."  This is a classic of the genre.  "I'm sorry but . . . get off your lazy ass and do something to better yourself."  I'm sorry but thanks for this helpful insight, Antonio.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@Antonio De La Torre Who said anything about a "high paying job?" They just want to make a living wage. You should be concerned that many of Walmart's employees can still qualify for government assistance. So should we be paying them or should it be their employer?

ruddski
ruddski

It's a job in retail, that's all. Got a problem with retail?

Jaibird13
Jaibird13

@mavdog Well said. I work retail myself (and for crap pay), but I was aware of the terms when I accepted the job. I am currently looking for something else a little closer to home (and for better pay), but I commute right now because I had to take a job where I could get it at the time. There are options. Especially in the DFW metroplex. :)

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@mavdog While watching from your privilege position.  When a conglomerate like Walmart moves into a neighborhood or town they kill off their competitors, just look around. So no, there isn't always a choice. If everyone who worked for Walmart left, where would they go? Unemployment line is where.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@gmit As you can see. People don't care about the consequences so long as they can save a buck. Little do they realize, we're paying Walmart workers through government assistance. So much for the savings!

ruddski
ruddski

Mega giant store with low prices. No prob.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@Russp but then, they didn't fire me for being so hung over I could barely keep my eyes open, so there's that.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@dfwheathen Many of our servicemen and women qualify for government assistance, especially WIC.  Where is your concern over that?

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

@dfwheathenAll of your comments are oblivious to the predominant debate within the economics profession regarding whether or not and the extent to which minimum wage policies destroy job opportunities.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@dfwheathen @mavdog Look again at the walmarts around Dallas.  Very few of them are operating in an economic wasteland.  Restaurants, small shops, dollar stores and other businesses flock to any new walmart, hoping to set up shop in their shadow.  Why? because walmart creates business traffic everywhere it establishes a store.  Go find me one walmart in Dallas with the satellite strip centers are full of vacant storefronts.  Just one.  I'll bet you can't do it.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@dfwheathen

"conglomerate"???? that's funny. kinda sad really that you don't understand the words you use, but funny nonetheless.

please show me one locale where WalMart is the sole employer, where a worker has zero places other than WalMart in which to work.

just one. should be easy if your point has any credibility or fact, right?

there's always a choice. always.

Threeboys
Threeboys

@dfwheathen @mavdog

...."When a conglomerate like Walmart moves into a neighborhood or town they kill off their competitors..."

Actually, when a conglomerate like Walmart moves into a neighborhood...their competitors get killed because the consumer who used to frequent the competitors, choose to take their dollars to Walmart.  What Walmart does is offer an alternative shopping experience at a much lower price.

And I have nothing to do with Walmart, in fact I shop there about once a year which is just about often enough to remind me why I don't shop Walmart. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@dfwheathen @gmit Take a break from your impassioned rant and think for a second.  Mom and Pop stores can't compete with WalMart pricing and that's too bad.  Meanwhile some of us have to live within a pretty tight budget.  Walmart allows us to stretch that budget a little.  So screw you and your consequences, if the neighborhood stores and mom and pops want my business, they  need to work with my budget.

StupidHippies
StupidHippies

@dfwheathen @gmit Kind of like how we now have an excess of unskilled labor because no one thinks about the consequence of unfettered illegal immigration.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@paulpsycho78 @holmantx

Jun 11th 2013 7:35PM - While the new labor contract at UPS is expected to pass the vote on June 22, in the video below, Fool analyst Blake Bos tells investors that they will want to watch that vote very carefully. A strike back in 1997 cost UPS $650 million in lost business, and any such similar disruption now could be a catastrophe and a huge win for competitor FedEx . Blake describes the relationship between management and workers at UPS, and tells investors some of the key labor challenges that the company will face going forward.

Stock Analysts think the Union will accept the contract but the greatest threat to UPS is their mgt/union relationship is definitely hostile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dSWaV36E1-c

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@paulpsycho78 thats because the market bears the cost to cover what it takes to pay the Union Members and keep them happy.  Trust me, once shipping a package hits a price point to where you think twice about using them, or the costs of the union members is more than the company can afford, they wont be fine with unions.  Ask every airline or auto maker about that as holman said.  

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@dfwheathen @bealotcoolerifyoudid @mavdog Sorry, didn't realize you would take me seriously. 

But I have never been impressed with the caliber of employee at Wal Mart.  Of course, that's probably because WM pays so low anyone worth a damn would work elsewhere.  So, I doubt trader joe's would hire any of them.  I think most employers would feel the same. 

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@bealotcoolerifyoudid @dfwheathen @mavdog Anecdotal evidence, aka the "proof of ignorance." Now count how many Walmarts there are between that Trader Joe's and the next one. Let's see if Trader Joe's will hire all those Walmart employees. SMH

feldnick
feldnick

@RTGolden1 @mavdog "not much more than a middle man, collecting dues on labor it didn't perform and benefits from profits it didn't generate."

This sounds like an accurate  description of health insurance companies.


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@mavdog Teamsters unions fought UPS' driver guidelines tooth and nail for years before the drivers themselves told the union to shut the hell up.  The employees and the management of a company can work together toward common goals or they can be at odds with each other.  The union is not necessary for this process.  maybe 60-100 years ago the union was essential.  Perhaps, in extremely large corporations, unions still provide some strength to workers.  Other than that, the Union is not much more than a middle man, collecting dues on labor it didn't perform and benefits from profits it didn't generate.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@RTGolden1

disagree, these are examples of the management and the unions representing the employees working together in common purpose. One of those "sound principles" you speak of is communication and positive working relations between management and workforce.

the existence of a union representing employees does not create a fait accompli of confrontation with management and disconnect of the common objectives of company health and profit.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@mavdog The positives you cite here have little to do with the unions.  These are management issues.  UPS management has pursued efficiency in its efforts to catch FedEx.  Southwest and Alaska Air both have management teams that are committed to company growth and follow sound principles to generate it.  Thus far, the employees in all three companies, in spite of union pressure at times, work in partnership with management to achieve these goals and results.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin

wow, that's incredibly simplistic.

Employee costs should be viewed thru the prism of employee productivity. UPS employees are well trained to be as efficient as possible, and their union membership isn't a negative on the wages they receive,

Likewise, look at Southwest, or Alaska Air. Both unionized, both with employees that are highly productive, highly compensated, and seen as some of the best workers in the industry.

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