Walmart Under Attack from Ashton Kutcher and NLRB Over Labor Violations

It appears as if low-wage Walmart (NYSE:WMT) workers and the organizers of groups such as OUR Walmart have found themselves a powerful (influential, at least) new ally in Ashton Kutcher. The television star turned businessman issued a series of tweets earlier this week aimed directly at Walmart, which is the world’s largest private-sector employer and the second largest public corporation, calling the corporation out for what many believe to be unfair wages paid to many, if not most, of its employees.

Kutcher referred specifically to a story in The Wire, which in turn referred to a story from the Cleveland Plain DealerThe story revealed that a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio, was holding a Thanksgiving food drive for its own employees. That is, collection bins were reportedly set up in an employees-only area, and Walmart employees were encouraged to donate to their colleagues in need.

While the spirit of the idea is good — and Walmart has defended the action, calling it an “act of human kindness” — the event points to the larger issue of low pay. Walmart has been put under pressure from various labor organizations regarding its wage and labor policies. Protests began in earnest heading into the holiday season last year, and are likely to continue through Black Friday 2013.

Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a statement saying that it had investigated allegations that Walmart was violating the rights of its employees, and “found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others.” The Office of the General Council has authorized some of the complaints related to alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

Here are the alleged violations that the NLRB found merit to:

  • During two national television news broadcasts and in statements to employees at Walmart stores in California and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012.
  • Walmart stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.
    • Walmart stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined, and/or terminated employees in anticipation of or in response to employees’ other protected concerted activities.

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