Union Loses ULP Alleging Walmart Acted Unlawfully by Removing Protesters to Public Sidewalks During Black Friday Protests

If your remember, OUR Walmart – a UFCW backed union organizing committee focused on Walmart – engaged in demonstrations and picketing outside of Walmarts across the country on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) 2012. After their demonstrations were over, OUR Walmart filed unfair labor practice charges against Walmart alleging that Walmart violated labor laws during the protests. 

One of the allegations OUR Walmart made was that Walmart violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by telling employees that they could not be on company property and having police escort them off premises. Apparently as busloads of demonstrators arrived at each store to picket they were told by Walmart representatives that they could not picket or demonstrate on the company’s private property and they were moved to public sidewalks.

Importantly, the demonstrators included non-employees as well as employees who worked at different locations than where they picketed. Non-employee demonstrators can be removed from company property, and employees who are off-duty have less access rights than on-duty workers.

Since Walmart had a lawful solicitation and distribution policy requiring non-employees to obtain prior approval for activity on company property, and no Walmart employee made a request to remain on company property, Walmart acted lawfully by removing the protesters from its property.

Does your company have a lawful solicitation and distribution policy? Is it evenly and consistently enforced? Companies never know when a union will picket their facility. I have represented companies with just a few employees against rogue picketing by a zealous union. Having a lawful solicitation and distribution policy is a huge benefit when trying to thwart an uprising outside your front door or in your parking lot so you can continue conducting business. Make sure you are prepared.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Austin Legal’s Concierge Legal Services program is relied upon by companies to remain compliant and competitive. If you have employees, you need Concierge Legal Services. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Austin@LaborEmploymentOSHA.com.

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