The retail giant unfairly retaliated against employees, the ruling said.
Strikers outside a California Walmart in 2012. Via Flickr user Neon Tommy/Matt Hamilton.
Sixteen former Walmart employees who were fired after participating in strikes in in 2013 will be reinstated, thanks to a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board released Thursday.
The May and June 2013 protests were organized by the employee advocacy group OUR Walmart, which pressures the company to improve its workers’ pay and working conditions. The group gathered employees to demonstrate at a number of retail stores and at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The company fired some participating employees for failing to show up for their shifts.
But administrative law judge Geoffrey Carter ruled that existing labor laws protect the striking workers. Walmart will have to rehire the fired employees. The company will also have to tell all workers who were disciplined for their absences that their organizing activity is lawful.
The decision is a “huge victory,” Jess Levin, a spokeswoman for the labor group Making Change at Walmart, told USA Today. “It sends a message to Walmart that its workers cannot be silenced.”
Walmart has indicated that it will appeal the NLRB decision.
The ruling comes a day after the retail company announced the second phase of a five-year plan to raise wages. Walmart’s minimum wage will rise to $10 an hour in February.