Walmart labor protests have spread to 28 stores in 12 states.
The protests only involved 88 employees, which is a drop in the bucket considering Walmart employs 1.4 million workers worldwide. However, the protest followed a strike last week in the Los Angeles area that involved 63 workers and precedes a planned strike at the company headquarters.
The strike last week was the first strike ever in Walmart's 50-year existence, reports The Wall Street Journal. And the increased labor activity could signal another battle between the company and labor unions over the unionization of the company's employees.
Walmart is far and away the largest employer in the U.S. Through concerted effort and much expense, the company has staved off unionization of its employees. But given the potential number of dues-paying members, unions have been exploring ways to infiltrate the company for years.
The company has been involved in a throng of lawsuits by employees and does not have a sterling reputation for how it treats its workers. The company has faced class action sex discrimination lawsuits, class action wage and hour lawsuits, and pretty much every other employment litigation imaginable.
While the largest employer is certain to face more lawsuits given their number of employees, the lawsuits do show that things are not perfect for employees at Walmart. As a result, they now have to battles with unions and potential unionization, which can add big headaches for employers.
So what should a smaller business owner do when faced with potential unionization?
Generally, happy and content workers will not want to, or feel the need to, organize. Keeping your workers satisfied is the best defense to unionization. To keep your workers satisfied, you can:
- pay competitive wages
- listen to employee complaints and respond accordingly
- be fair and just
- explain changes to company policies
In addition, you may want to state your case directly to your employees for why they should not organize. Be honest and explain both the benefits and drawbacks of joining a union.
- NLRB's 'Employee Rights' Poster Rule on Hold (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- 5 Ways to Avoid Ex-Employee Lawsuits (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Record Number of Reasons to Follow Wage and Hour Laws (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)