Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, XpertHR Legal Editor

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced that, for now, it will not decide Wal-Mart's unfair labor practice charge, which alleged that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (Union) engaged in illegal picketing with the intent to unionize workers.

Wal-Mart alleged in its charge that the Union violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by picketing at its stores for more than 30 days with the intent of forming a union. The NLRA prohibits union organizers from picketing for more than 30 days without filing a petition for an election. Specifically, Wal-Mart asserted that demonstrations organized by OUR Wal-Mart that took place over a few weeks last fall and intensified on Black Friday threatened to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other employees. OUR Wal-Mart is closely affiliated with the Union and comprises former and current Wal-Mart employees.

The NLRB agreed to hold off on the charge based on specific commitments by the Union to disavow any intent to unionize Wal-Mart employees and to publicly state that commitment on its website and in mailings to its thousands of members nationwide. The Union also promised to not engage in any picketing or any other type of confrontation conduct that is the functional equivalent of picketing at Wal-Mart stores for at least 60 days. The NLRB agreed to dismiss Wal-Mart's unfair labor practice charge in six months if the Union fulfills all its commitments.

While Wal-Mart seems to have won this battle, the war against the unionization of its employees seems far from over. In a statement, the Union stated, "Wal-Mart workers and their supporters will continue their call for change at Wal-Mart and an end to its attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs."

XpertHR will continue to follow this story as well as the latest news on Labor Relations and other key HR compliance issues.

Additional Resources

Labor Relations > Labor Relations Overview

Labor Relations > Unfair Labor Practices

Signs of Union Organizing in the Workplace - Chart

Manage an Unfair Labor Practice Filed by a Union

Run an Anti-Union Campaign