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brand challenges

Walmart Falls in Feds' Crosshairs Over Reactions to Worker Protests

Posted by Dale Buss on January 16, 2014 02:53 PM

Over its decades of strident growth, Walmart has taken on everything from Kmart to the corner drug store, environmental activists to Hollywood gliterati. Now the chain runs up against its biggest foe yet: an inimical US federal government.

The National Labor Relations Board formally complained that Walmart had illegally retaliated against American workers who protested their employer on Black Friday last year and other incidents beginning in 2012. The complaints involve 60 employees and 19 firings.

After failing to reach an agreement that would avoid litigation, the NLRB accused Walmart of illegally threatening or punishing workers who considered taking part in the high-profile walkouts, The Huffington Post reported. Workers in several states filed complaints after the strikes, and the board's counsel eventually "found merit" in some of them.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Fast Food Workers Organize Nationwide Protests to Fight for More Pay, Unions

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 29, 2013 12:03 PM

Fast-food workers in 50 US cities plan to walk off their jobs today in the latest—and largest—demonstration to pressure employers to allow workers to organize, and increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour. 

While a movement has been building since last year, employers have witnessed a resurgence in the demands for greater pay and unionized benefits, with a multi-city protest organized at the end of July. 

"The workers are responding to total failure on behalf of the federal government to raise the minimum wage to keep up with inflation and the cost of living," Tsedeye Gebreselassie, attorney at the National Employment Law Project, told Reuters. 

Employees of McDonald’s, Wendy's, Burger King and other QSR companies will be joined in protest by retail employees from stores such as Macy's, Sears, and Dollar Tree.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Fast Food Workers Kick-Off Nationwide Strikes in NYC in Support of Higher Pay, Unions

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 29, 2013 05:32 PM

And the wage wars continue. Hundreds of workers at fast food chain outlets across New York City took to the streets Monday to strike for higher wages, demanding the standard wage be raised to $15 per hour, more than twice the $7.25 minimum wage that fast food employees currently earn. 

Organizers from New York-based Fast Food Forward said the strike affected around 60 restaurants operated by McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC and Burger King. "A lot of the workers are living in poverty, not able to put food on the table or take the train to work. They are striking because they can't continue to maintain their families on the wages they're being paid in the fast food industry, said director Jonathan Westin, according to AFP. 

Protests are scheduled to take place this week in Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Mich., Kansas City, Milwaukee and St. Louis. "It will be by far one of the biggest actions (in the sector) this country has seen so far," Westin predicted.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Walmart's $81 Million Fine for Toxic Dumping Undermines Sustainability Promises

Posted by Barry Silverstein on May 29, 2013 11:31 AM

Walmart's brand has taken a steady battering over the past year, and part of it is related to sustainability. 

Last March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance issued a report called "Walmart's Greenwash" that said the leading retailer's sustainability campaign "has done more to improve the company's image than to help the environment." According to the report, Walmart's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly and its energy efficiency and renewable projects are "too modest" for the size and scale of the company's operations.

Add to that Walmart's latest environmental slap in the face: On May 28, the company pleaded guilty to dumping hazardous waste in California and Missouri, agreeing to pay more than $81 million in fines. In the greater scheme of things, the money is the least significant portion of the problem for Walmart. With $27.87 billion of operating profit last year, The Atlantic estimates that $81 million is little more than a single day's worth of profit for the retailer.Continue reading...

retail watch

Walmart Hopes Black Friday Strike Doesn't Scuttle Spoil Holiday Plans

Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2012 02:59 PM

Walmart is pushing through the distractions, CEO Michael Duke told shareholders at the annual meeting today, and aims to continue its momentum both in the U.S. and globally. At least, that's the grand plan. Critics continue to wage war on Walmart, including its own employees currently staging walkouts across the country (a first for the retail giant) over wages and benefits; they're even threatening a Black Friday strike on its biggest selling day of the year.

But at least Duke could declare to the meeting in Rogers, Ark., that the chain has stopped shooting itself in the foot the way it did a couple of years ago. That's when Walmart radically shifted its traditional merchandising and promotion strategy to move upscale, and the combination of consumer rejection of that tack plus the strains of the recession caused it to stumble in its crucial U.S. home market.Continue reading...

social media watch

Overreaching in Aisle 2? Union Discounts Grocer's Social Media Policy

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 2, 2012 11:01 AM

In a closely watched case that could impact employees' use of social media, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the Stop & Shop grocery chain's social media policy is "impermissibly vague, overbroad and violated Section 7 rights of employees" that protects the right to organize and bargain.

The Union represents 5,500 Stop & Shop employees at 45 stores in and around New York City. The petition alleges that Stop & Shop enacted the social media policy without consulting the union, a violation of collective bargaining rights, while forbidding employees from disclosing confidential information (such as salaries) on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The policy also prohibits employees from discrediting the store's practices or products on their personal social media posts. Furthermore, according to legal counsel for the Union, Patricia McConnell of Meyer Suozzi English & Klein, the policy requires employees to report colleagues’ violations whereby workers face disciplinary action — up to and including termination.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

Hyatt Workers End Week-Long Strike

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 15, 2011 05:02 PM

Hyatt workers today returned to work, following a week-long strike that saw local religious leaders join the picket line in a show of solidarity.

Thousands of Hyatt workers in Chicago (with two hotels), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu walked off the job in a strike that ended at midnight last night, part of an "ongoing demonstration against the hotel chain, which hasn’t renegotiated contracts since Aug. 31, 2009 and has racked up 15 OSHA citations," as the Huffington Post reports.

Contract renewal talks on a new deal for housekeepers, bell staff, and restaurant and banquet workers have apparently did not go well after union workers hit the picket lines last week, “after a series of one-day work stoppages,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.Continue reading...

auto motive

The Shop Steward Around the Corner: The UAW's Friendlier Face

Posted by Dale Buss on September 14, 2011 02:59 PM

Welcome to the kinder, gentler — okay, docile — United Auto Workers union. The one that is making a genteel agreement with the Big Three US automakers to extend their contract talks beyond tonight's initial deadline because, well, they have more to talk about before they sign on the dotted lline.

UAW founding icon Walter Reuther might be rolling over in his grave about today's quiescence by the once-proud institution. But a cooperative stance is what the UAW is all about these days.

For one thing, they are under a no-strike obligation when it comes to General Motors and Chrysler because of the terms of the federal bailouts; and the union's long-evolving stance of cooperation with Ford likely would have precluded a strike this fall anyway. There's also the fact that today, more than ever in its history, the fate of the UAW and its members is tied to the fates of the Big Three.Continue reading...

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