Section Three: Guides for Actions

  • The Rights Of Associates To Participate In Actions Inside And Outside Stores
  • Messages On Signs Associates Make
  • Outdoor Distribution And Picketing Instructions
  • Indoor Distribution Instructions
  • Indoor Action Instructions

The Rights Of Associates To Participate In Actions Inside And Outside Stores

 Associates have broad rights to participate in actions outside stores that are directed at other Associates, customers or the general public.  Associates have the right to picket, handbill, chant and demonstrate outside of stores as long as they are not violent, block access into or out of the store or are disorderly.  These rights extend to Associates who are off work time or who work in other stores. The law protects Associates who take actions inside and outside of stores to protest ULPs and to pressure companies to improve working conditions.

 Associates’ Right To Talk Inside Stores

The law guarantees the right of Associates to communicate with each another and customers about OUR Walmart and working conditions at the workplace.  Companies cannot restrict Associates from talking about OUR Walmart while working on the sales floor even though the company claims that the discussion interferes with productivity.  Company practices can also give Associates the right to talk, if for example the company allows Associates to talk about non-work topics to each other or customers while working on the sales floor.

Topics Associates have the right to talk about:

Associates have the right to talk about all workplace issues such as OUR Walmart, actions, working conditions, banding together, etc.

Right to Talk to Customers 

If the company permits Associates to talk to customers about non-work related topics, such as family, weather, holidays or sports, Associates also have the right to talk to customers about OUR Walmart and working conditions.  Associates have this right even when customers are present.

Talking is not the same as “Soliciting”

Companies may not restrict Associates from talking about OUR Walmart or working conditions under no-solicitation rules because talking about OUR Walmart is not solicitation.  For example, in one Walmart case, despite the store’s concern for customer service, an Associate did not solicit when during work time the Associate asked another Associate if she had a Union card and invited other Associates to a meeting.  Simply informing an Associate of a meeting, asking a question related to OUR Walmart or talking about whether OUR Walmart is good or bad does not interrupt worker productivity enough to justify the company prohibiting such communication as “solicitation.”

Right to Distribute

While the NLRA generally protects the right of Associates to distribute handbills or other things any time, anywhere at the workplace, the law allows companies to restrict this right to non-work areas  during non-work time if the company carefully does so in a consistent and nondiscriminatory way.

However, Associates always have the right to distribute during their non-work time and in non-work areas.

 Work time and non-work time

Work time is only the time when Associates are actually performing job duties.  Non-work time is any time other than work time.  Work time does not include time when Associates make personal phone calls, punch in or out, or otherwise stop performing their work duties, even if they are still punched in.

Example: Associates are not on work time when they are on the way to the breakroom, smoking area, restroom, water fountains, or entering or leaving the store.  In one case, an Associate was not working during the time the Associate went to get coffee, from the time the Associate left the Associate’s work area, walked to the coffee machine, waited for the cup to fill and until the Associate returned to the work area.

Work areas and non-work areas:

 Work areas are only those areas where work related to the main function is regularly performed.  It is not all areas of the facility except break rooms.  Like the term non-work time, non-work area means all areas other than work areas.

An area does not become a work area merely because some work occurs there.  For example, a store hallway that is not used to store merchandise does not become a work area because stockers pass through the hallway to move merchandise to the sales floor.  Similarly, a store parking lot is not a work area merely because Associates retrieve carts or assist customers loading purchases into cars there.

While the law permits companies to restrict distribution to non-work areas and non-work times, companies must do so consistently and in a non-discriminatory way.  Companies may not enforce rules:

  • More strictly or consistently after Associates engage in protected activity.
  • In a discriminatory way. Companies discriminate if they restrict Associate rights but allow other Associates to engage in similar activity, like, for example, exchanging other papers or things from groups other than OUR Walmart, like Avon, the Girl Scouts, schools, or to allow Associates to circulate or sign birthday, wedding, illness or sympathy cards, invitations for events, or wear other buttons, like holiday or sports team buttons, or soliciting for Avon or their children’s schools.

Restrictions that require prior approval are unlawful:

Rules may not require Associates to obtain the company’s prior approval before exercising their rights.

Right To Wear Stickers And Buttons

The law provides Associates with broad rights to wear OUR Walmart stickers and buttons while working on the sales floor.

The right to wear stickers or buttons can be based on a company practice of allowing Associates to wear stickers or buttons depicting other messages.  For example, if the company disregards dress codes and permits Associates to wear other stickers or buttons, such as religious or sports team buttons, this practice effectively modifies any dress code to give Associates the right to wear OUR Walmart stickers.

Walmart cannot restrict Associate rights to wear stickers based on the company’s public image because public image is not important enough to Walmart.

Associates retain the right to wear stickers or buttons even when they frequently come in contact with customers.


Messages On Signs Associates Make

IMPORTANT: To make sure that it is clear that Associates are ULP strikers, the message strikers communicate should be that they are striking to protest the company’s ULPs and to try to force the company to stop committing ULPs.  The message should not be about Walmart changing working conditions or making Walmart a better place to work or shop.  This includes messages on signs ULP strikers carry, the handbills they distribute and what they say to other Associates or customers during actions.

 Ideas for Signs:

“Walmart Respect Associates — Don’t Silence Associates”

“On Strike for the Freedom to Strike Out”

“Walmart stop trying to silence Associates who speak out for fair schedules and better wages”

“Walmart stop bullying Associates who speak out”


 

Outdoor Distribution And Picketing Instructions

The purpose of this distribution and picketing is to inform Walmart Associates and customers about how Walmart has attempted to silence Associates who have spoken out for better jobs and retaliated against those who have spoken out.  The purpose is NOT to disrupt or interfere with the company’s business.

Walmart Associates have the right to engage in these actions outside the front of Walmart stores because Walmart cannot limit the actions of Associates outside stores unless they are disorderly, block people trying to enter or leave the store, or are violent.

To protect these rights, participants picketing or distributing leaflets or other items must follow these instructions:

  1. Participants engaged in distribution should approach customers and Associates entering or leaving the store:  Offer the leaflet or item and say: “We are protesting Walmart’s attempts to silence Associates who have spoken out for better jobs and retaliation against those who have spoken out.”  If someone declines the offer, don’t give it to them. DO stay enthusiastic.
  2. Participants should not block store entrances or exits: Allow customers and Associates to enter and exit the store.
  3. Pick up any discarded leaflets or items: When the action  is over, please pick up any leaflet or item that anyone has dropped on the ground or left anywhere else like benches or planters.
  4. Be peaceful, professional and polite: If you get into a discussion with someone, hold your ground but be professional and polite.  Do not get into arguments, raise your voice or threaten anyone.  Do not say anything insulting or intimidating to Associates, customers or any manager.  Stay sober and drug-free.
  5. If a police officer or manager asks you to leave: Please refer the officer or manager to your action lead.  The lead will explain that:
    • Off-duty Associates, Associates from other Walmart stores and Associates who’ve walked off the job have rights under federal labor law and the First Amendment to participate in actions directly in front of Walmart’s stores.
    • Outsiders, such as community allies and organizers, have the right under federal labor law to participate because Walmart allows other groups to conduct activities in front of its stores.
    • Finally, the lead will explain that we have not done anything to lose those rights and have been peaceful, orderly, non-disruptive and have not blocked anyone’s access into or out of the store.
    • If the officer continues to ask that the action stop or threatens to arrest the participants, the lead should call the attorney designated for the action.
  6. If the officer nevertheless threatens to arrest you if you don’t leave, DO NOT take an arrest: Leave the property and move the action to the nearest public property, such as driveway or sidewalk.

Indoor Distribution Instructions

The purpose of this distribution is to inform Walmart Associates and customers about how Walmart has attempted to silence Associates who have spoken out for better jobs and retaliated against those who have.  The purpose is NOT to disrupt the company’s business or unduly interfere with Associates’ work.

All distribution must be conducted in accordance with these instructions.

  1. Approach customers and Associates working on the sales floor and on break:  Do not interrupt if Associates are assisting customers.  Rather, wait until after they have taken care of the customer before beginning or resuming your conversation.
  2.  Offer the leaflet or other item: Greet the customer or Associate, introduce yourself, offer the leaflet or item, and say: “We are protesting Walmart’s attempts to silence Associates who have have spoken out for better jobs and retaliation against those who have spoken out.”
  3. Don’t force anyone to accept: Distribute only to persons willing to accept.  Do not leave leaflets or items on shelves, next to merchandise, on the floor or anywhere else in the store.  If you see anyone drop leaflets or items, please pick them up.
  4. Ask Associates to read leaflets during breaks, mealtimes or after their shifts.
  5.  Ask Associates if they have any questions:You may speak to interested Associates and answer their questions while they are working on the sales floor.
    1. If you can do so briefly, answer while Associates are on the sales floor.  Otherwise, ask if you can talk to them someplace else after work.  (Of course, take as much time as necessary to answer questions of Associates on break.)
  6. Wish Associates and customers a good day, whether or not they accept:  Do NOT take up more than a few minutes of the time of Associates working on the salesfloor.
  7. Be peaceful, professional and polite: If you get into a discussion with anyone, hold your ground but be professional and polite.  Do not get into arguments, raise your voice or threaten anyone.  Do not say anything insulting or intimidating to Associates, customers or any manager.  Stay sober and drug-free.
  8. You do not have to leave unless ordered to do so: If someone asks you to leave the store before you’re done, explain that you are only distributing literature or items about Walmart’s illegal retaliation against Associates who’ve spoke up and that you asked Associates to read literature only during non-work time.  Explain that you have been peaceful, orderly and that you have not interfered with Associates’ work or the company’s business.
  9. You are not “soliciting” under federal labor law simply by talking to workers and asking them to accept leaflets or other items.
  10. You are not trespassing unless a manager with the appropriate authority orders you to leave and you refuse.  If you leave when ordered, you have not trespassed.  Violating a company’s no-solicitation or no-distribution policy is NOT the same as violating trespassing law.  A “no-soliciting/no-distribution” sign on a store is NOT the same thing as a posted “NO TRESPASS” signs.  In almost every state, it is NOT trespassing in a retail store open to the public until the manager with the appropriate authority orders you to leave the store and you refuse to leave.
    1. If the manager only says you are violating a company policy, you are NOT violating trespassing law.
    2. If the person requests that you leave, ask whether they are ordering you to leave the store.
    3. If you are satisfied that the person possesses the authority to order you to leave the store and the person insists that you to leave, then leave.  It is NOT trespassing if you leave when ordered.
    4. If you are unsure whether the person possesses the required authority or has ordered you to leave, you may request verification from a law enforcement officer.  However, if the officer tells you that you are trespassing and that you will be arrested unless you leave, leave.  Do NOT get arrested.

Indoor Action Instructions

The purpose of this action is to inform Walmart Associates and customers about how Walmart has attempted to silence Associates who have spoken out for better jobs and retaliated against those who have.  The purpose is NOT to disrupt with the company’s business or unduly interfere with Associates’ work.

Everyone participating in the action must do so in accordance with these instructions.

  1. Participate in the action as your leads direct.
  2. Be peaceful, professional and polite: At no time during the action should you get into arguments, raise your voice or threaten anyone.  Do not say anything insulting or intimidating to Associates, customers or any manager.  Stay sober and drug-free.
  3. Do not disrupt business operations: Our purpose is to communicate with Associates and customers, not to interfere with Walmart’s operations.
  4. When the action is completed, please pick up anything the participants have dropped and put back anything that the group moved for the action.
  5. You do not have to leave unless ordered to do so. If someone asks you to leave the store before you’re done, direct them to the action lead.  The lead will explain that the action is only protesting Walmart’s illegal retaliation against Associates who’ve spoke up.  The lead will explain that the action has been peaceful, orderly and has not interfered with Associates’ work or the company’s business.
  6. You are not “soliciting” under federal labor law simply by participating in an action.
  7. You are not trespassing unless a manager with the appropriate authority orders the participants to leave and they refuse.  If the participants leave when ordered, they have not trespassed.  Violating a company’s no-solicitation or no-distribution policy is NOT the same as violating trespassing law.  A “no-soliciting/no-distribution” sign on a store is NOT the same thing as a posted “NO TRESPASS” sign.  In almost every state, it is NOT trespassing in a retail store open to the public until the manager with the appropriate authority orders you to leave the store and you refuse to leave.
    1. If the manager only says the action violates a company policy, you are NOT violating trespassing law.
    2. If the person requests that you leave, the lead should ask whether they are ordering you to leave the store.
    3. If the lead is satisfied that the person possesses the authority to order the participants to leave the store and the person insists that they to leave, then leave.  It is NOT trespassing if you leave when ordered.
    4. If the lead is unsure whether the person possesses the required authority or has ordered the participants to leave, the lead may request verification from a law enforcement officer.  However, if the officer says the participants are trespassing and that they will be arrested unless they leave, leave.  Do NOT get arrested.

 


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