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Oct 13 - Walmart Strike Memo Reveals Confidential Management Plans

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 Oct 13 - Walmart Strike Memo Reveals Confidential Management Plans
Unread 3 years agoclass of '07 - on now - #1
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Walmart launched a large-scale response this week to a series of unprecedented labor strikes, according to a confidential document obtained by The Huffington Post.

The seven-page internal memo, issued Oct. 8, is intended for salaried employees only, and contains instructions on how to respond to strikes by hourly workers that spread to 28 Walmart stores in 12 cities earlier this week. The strikes were the first by Walmart retail employees in the company’s 50-year history.

The memo makes clear that Walmart, the world's largest private employer, views the labor protests as a serious attack, a message that runs contrary to the company's public comments that the strikes are mere "publicity stunts," as Walmart's vice president of communications David Tovar told The Huffington Post Tuesday.

"As you know,” the memo opens, “activists or union organizers have been trying for years to stop our Company’s growth and to damage our relationship with our customers and members. One of the activists’ or union organizers’ tactics is to try to disrupt the business by urging our a.ssociates to participate in a walkout or other form of work stoppage.”

The majority of the memo is aimed at instructing managers not to violate workers' legal right to engage in concerted activity, or non-union labor organizing. Managers are directed not to “discipline” employees who engage in walkouts, sit-ins or sick-outs.

Legal experts said the confidential memo shows an unprecedented level of caution from a company that has taken harsh stances towards employee attempts to organize in the past.

“Walmart probably has in mind that the Obama NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] often sides with unions over management,” said Lance Compa, a labor law professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations in Ithaca, N.Y. “So they’re being extremely cautious.”

The memo is peppered with Walmart management jargon, offering a window into the secretive corporate culture built by founder Sam Walton. Managers are reminded over and over of the acronym TIPS (Threaten Intimidate Promise Spy) when dealing with potential labor organizing by hourly-wage "associates." The widely used human resources term serves to remind managers that they cannot, by law, threaten or intimidate workers who organize, promise them benefits if they stop organizing, or spy on their activities.

What managers can legally do, however, is what Walmart calls FOE -- offer workers Facts, Opinions, and Personal Experiences about labor organizing. Walmart offers a sample opinion that says, "I don't think a walkout is a good way to resolve problems or issues." According to Compa, this is a boilerplate tactic for companies looking to discourage unionizing without breaking the law.

The historic retail worker strikes began last Friday in Los Angeles, when 60-some people walked off work, and they quickly spread across the country. Earlier in September, workers at warehouses owned by Walmart in Illinois and California also went on strike.

Striking workers are demanding that Walmart end retaliatory practices against employees who attempt to organize by Nov. 23, Black Friday. If not, they will strike again on the biggest shopping day of the year, according to Colby Harris, a Walmart worker from Dallas, who participated in Tuesday’s strike.

Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman said the strikes were largely publicity stunts. "We've seen the unions hold these made for TV events outside our stores for about ten years now," he told HuffPost, "and they want the publicity to help further their political and financial agendas. There is a very small number of a.ssociates raising these concerns, and they don't represent the views of the vast majority of our 1.3 million a.ssociates."

According to Compa, the memo reflects Walmart's concern over the 20-some charges of unfair labor practices that Walmart workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over the past 8 weeks in concurrence with the strikes.

The charges include dozens of allegations from employees who claim they were subjected to harassment, cut hours and other disciplinary actions when Walmart higher-ups learned that they supported OUR Walmart, the United Food and Commercial Workers-backed worker group that organized the recent strikes. If the NLRB sides with the workers, Walmart may eventually be forced to pay a huge settlement in back pay, the specific amount of which would vary for each individual case.

Fogleman said the company has "very strict policies against retaliation. If an a.ssociate feels that they have been retaliated against, we want to know that. That allows us the opportunity to look into it and take appropriate action."

Politics may also play a role in the company's newfound caution. Top positions at the NLRB are appointed by the president, and Democrats have traditionally been more sympathetic to labor organizers.

Notably, the leaked memo lacks many of Walmart’s famously tough labor policies.

In the past, internal Walmart documents instructed managers to remind employees that they could be permanently replaced if they went on strike, as well as provided talking points on the false guarantees unions make to workers, according to a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch that examined 292 NLRB charges against Walmart. The new document bears no mention of replacing employees.

At one point, Walmart is even more cautious than the law requires. The document does not instruct managers to evict employees conducting a sit-in on company property, as is within their legal right, according to Compa, who also serves as a consultant to Human Rights Watch.

Still, a few of the strategies that made Walmart famous as a union-buster rear their heads in the document. Tacked onto the end of the memo is a definition of the term, “Coaching By Walking Around” (CBWA), or “when managers walk through their facility or department everyday just to visit with a.ssociates,” as Walmart explains it. While it may sound benign, the verb "to coach" in Walmart lexicon also means to discipline employees. According to workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Walmart managers have used CBWA as a surveillance tactic to monitor and deter labor organizers.

Fogleman, the Walmart spokesman, defended the CWBA, saying that management uses it as a tool to "remain engaged with everyone working for them and with environment. It helps foster the channels of open dialogue that set us apart as an employer."

It remains to be seen whether the new directives will have a long-term impact on Walmart managers. "I think it's one thing to get a piece of paper, but in practice that's not what people have experienced in these stores," said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice, a nonprofit workers rights group. Gupta cautions that one document is unlikely to alter five decades of anti-union corporate culture. “What I worry about is that our experience with Walmart management is they say they'll respect workers, and then their actions tell a different story."

Walmart also could have ulterior motives for considering workers rights, such as covering itself in upcoming Unfair Labor Practice proceedings. “Walmart could say, in effect, 'Look, it says right here, we told our supervisors ‘don’t retaliate’ –- so we must be innocent,” said Compa, the law professor. Compa noted that this is a possible motivation for Walmart to have put such “extremely circumspect” manager instructions down on paper at a time like this.

For Dan Schlademan, director of the UFCW’s Making Change at Walmart campaign, the motives of the memo are less important than its overall effect on workers. "I've been doing this work for 20 years, and I've never seen a document like this.”

"What's important about this piece of paper is that it solidifies what people saw for the first time during the strikes, which is that Walmart employees were able to walk out in protest, and the next day were able to return to work. For many of them, that was amazing to see."
Here's the .pdf of the Memo
Walmart Strike Memo Reveals Confidential Management Plans
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '04 - away - #2
getyagameup 24 heat pts24 space
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if this strike goes off, walmart is going to be crippled financially. they aren't going to have enough time to hire people and get their money back for that day. if this thing is truly organized and goes off, they would take a serious hit. for them to have billions and billions of dollars, they have to sh*t on a lot of people consistently. it's a shame that the hardest hit are the ones at the bottom of the totem pole.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #3
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getyagameup said:
if this strike goes off, walmart is going to be crippled financially. they aren't going to have enough time to hire people and get their money back for that day. if this thing is truly organized and goes off, they would take a serious hit. for them to have billions and billions of dollars, they have to sh*t on a lot of people consistently. it's a shame that the hardest hit are the ones at the bottom of the totem pole.
true, but at the same time, its so hard to get everyone on the same page and go through with a strike, most will complain about the job and when its time to go through the strike, they gonna bi*ch up. i like the fact that they are getting together and doing something about it, but they gonna have to get more people, and some big time players (like Sharpton, Jesse J., even Obama) to back them so hey can truly get what they want from walmart.


its sad all the money walmart makes, the way they pay and treat their workers is past ridiculous.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #4
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i agree... it's gonna be murder to organize... but if they manage to do it, yo, that sh*t may actually derail Walmart badly for a moment..
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '08 - on now - #5
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I agree with the first few post in here but, whatever money they lose, they will get back.

#2 Wal-mart has a certain amount of money already set aside for stuff like this (lawsuits ,accidents etc) Most major business's do.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #6
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T2THEONE said:
I agree with the first few post in here but, whatever money they lose, they will get back.

#2 Wal-mart has a certain amount of money already set aside for stuff like this (lawsuits ,accidents etc) Most major business's do.
u right, if ppl really but in work they could wipe this cats out tho



but the masses aint got the heart
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '07 - away - #7
FeedTheBeast 14 heat pts14 space
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It would be a major upset if they accomplish anything from this......the majority of the employees will probably keep working.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '08 - away - #8
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nightmare said:
u right, if ppl really but in work they could wipe this cats out tho



but the masses aint got the heart
This.

That's precisely why Walmart keeps their ear to the ground on things like this, it's like slavery. When one of the overseers catches an employee planning something they cut them off and fire them - making an example out of them so the others don't get any ideas. They know the second that the employees take over its a wrap for them.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '04 - away - #9
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RokkyRok said:
This.

That's precisely why Walmart keeps their ear to the ground on things like this, it's like slavery. When one of the overseers catches an employee planning something they cut them off and fire them - making an example out of them so the others don't get any ideas. They know the second that the employees take over its a wrap for them.
Agree, sadly. Wal Mart has the upper hand always in situations like this, simply because they're the ones paying the pissed off people. So the people can get pissed off, walk out, risk losing a job and then having to migrate to an equally sh*tty job, being trained all over again, possibly having to commute further, etc OR they can just suck it up, work, and bi*ch about it when they get time.

I'm rooting for the people though.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '10 - away - #10
SickaMorStyle 402 heat pts402 space
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if they try and hire people, some people should try and get jobs there just to go on strike. Put WM deeper in sh*t.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '08 - away - #11
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nightmare said:
u right, if ppl really but in work they could wipe this cats out tho



but the masses aint got the heart
sure dont. you hear people all the time say theyre gonna do this or that but when it comes down to it you really think a walmart employee is gonna risk losing their job? fu*k no. theres a reason they work at walmart and its not because they want to.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '04 - away - #12
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i work for a wal mart distribution center and this sort of thing has been discussed but much like everyones sayin the masses will bi*ch out when the time comes. u say union and the right person hears you they tie ya up in a chair and make u watch propaganda videos until your eyes bleed
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '12 - away - #13
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youduglas said:
sure dont. you hear people all the time say theyre gonna do this or that but when it comes down to it you really think a walmart employee is gonna risk losing their job? fu*k no. theres a reason they work at walmart and its not because they want to.
Pretty much...still hope it happens though. Walmart conducts some dirty sh*t.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #14
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"As you know,” the memo opens, “activists or union organizers have been trying for years to stop our Company’s growth and to damage our relationship with our customers and members. One of the activists’ or union organizers’ tactics is to try to disrupt the business by urging our a.ssociates to participate in a walkout or other form of work stoppage.”
Love how walmart is acting like they're victims
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #15
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DonYBE said:
true, but at the same time, its so hard to get everyone on the same page and go through with a strike, most will complain about the job and when its time to go through the strike, they gonna bi*ch up. i like the fact that they are getting together and doing something about it, but they gonna have to get more people, and some big time players (like Sharpton, Jesse J., even Obama) to back them so hey can truly get what they want from walmart.


its sad all the money walmart makes, the way they pay and treat their workers is past ridiculous.
The funniest thing i find about this whole thing is that walmart has it good compared to my old job. These ppl dont know how good they have it compared to where i used to work. At least they got a staff of workers and get breaks now. I worked at a wholesale club that only used 1 or 2 cashiers throughout the day in a big a.ss store and they would make us do several different jobs at one time to make the store run and we'd hardly get breaks. I was a supervisor there and i'd be running around like an idiot helping out customers with our long a.ss lines, having to go run out and bring carts in(they didn't supply drinks for the carts ppl either and this is in florida so its hot as fu*k nearly everyday)then come back in sweaty as sh*t and having to hop on a register cuz we were always so understaffed. I rememeber a manager of mine telling me that lunches were mandatory if u worked more than 6 hrs but thats all that u would get even though the company handbook stated everybody gets a lunch and 2 breaks. Whenever they made u work a holiday(which should benefit u cuz you'd get paid time and a half) they would make that sh*t obsolete by making u work less days that week, thus that time and half didn't benefit u in anyway. I could go on forever with the sh*t they do, i'm just glad i'm done with that sh*thole and ppl there need to go on strike. I hope they go out of business one day and i'll be sure to make a trip there to laugh my fu*kin a.ss off at them idiots. Its a damn shame.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #16
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lol everyone hating on walmart and wants the company brought down, yet every wal mart parking lot in americal fills up with cars every fu*king day

theyve prolly got the most solid customer base out of any retail chain, guaranteed revenue, they gone be around forever
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '06 - away - #17
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BlazedGod said:
lol everyone hating on walmart and wants the company brought down, yet every wal mart parking lot in americal fills up with cars every fu*king day

theyve prolly got the most solid customer base out of any retail chain, guaranteed revenue, they gone be around forever
No one wants to bring down walmart, they just need to treat the workers better than they treating them now. Sam Walton didn't build this franchise by doing the tactics they doing now, it's funny that once he died, it became the company that it is now. Of course walmart parking lots will be full if they forcing smaller companies out of business and building a walmart literally on every street corner. In my city, they have like 6 walmarts, they only are competing with themselves.
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