NLRB Walmart employment decision: Judge rules that managers illegally punished workers for striking.

NLRB Judge Rules That Walmart Manager Cannot Legally Threaten to “Shoot the Union”

NLRB Judge Rules That Walmart Manager Cannot Legally Threaten to “Shoot the Union”

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 11 2014 1:28 PM

NLRB Judge Rules That Walmart Manager Cannot Legally Threaten to “Shoot the Union”

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One NLRB decision at a time.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Yep, you read that right. In a decision issued on Tuesday, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Walmart managers in California had illegally punished their employees for striking and had also illegally intimidated those employees with choice phrases like, “If it were up to me, I’d shoot the union.”

In his decision, NLRB Judge Geoffrey Carter found Walmart in violation of the National Labor Relations Act for implicitly and explicitly threatening Walmart employees, “selectively and disparately” enforcing its dress code so as to target union supporters, telling employees that bargaining-related activities were futile, and punishing employees for participating in a strike. Regarding the “shoot the union” statement, Carter wrote that, contrary to Walmart's argument, the comment “cannot be excused as a mere statement of opinion, a flip or intemperate remark, or hyperbole that no reasonable employee could have taken seriously.”

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The complaints in the Walmart case were brought by Our Walmart, a labor group but not a union that recently coordinated the nationwide protests against Walmart stores on Black Friday. Walmart said in a statement that it does “not agree with some of the administrative law judge's conclusions,” and plans to appeal parts of the ruling to the full labor board. But for now, a Walmart notice to employees appended to the NLRB ruling advises the following: “WE WILL NOT threaten Richmond, California store associates that we will ‘shoot the union.’” Good call.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.