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Former Walmart Workers Protest At Home Office

The group OUR Walmart returned to Bentonville Friday morning to protest in front of the home office.
Bentonville, AR - The group OUR Walmart returned to Bentonville Friday morning to protest in front of the home office.

The protestors claim the company retaliated against them for asking for better pay and working conditions.

Mary Watkines says she's worked at a Washington Walmart for more than a decade, and was placed on unpaid leave earlier this month. She joined six former associates who say they were fired for protesting the retailer's labor practices.

"These are the kind of things that Walmart does to anybody that stands up," she says. "We're associates there. We're just trying to live like everybody else. We just want better wages, respect, medical."

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg says the Organization United for Respect at Walmart is being coached by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and doesn't represent the majority of Walmart's more than one million employees.

"This isn't the first time this group has been out here protesting in front of the home office and we certainly respect their rights to do that," Lundberg says. "I can speak for hundreds of associates that I've spoken with that they find it frustrating that this outside group purports to speak for associates."

Lundberg says the company has an open door policy for every employee.

"It's an opportunity for any associate, at any level to talk to any member of management," Lundberg says. "Associates have told us we can speak for ourselves, and if we have anything we want to raise, we're free to do that."

Former associate Yvette Brown says that open door policy doesn't work.

"I went onto an unfair labor practice strike because leading up to that strike I've had issues, and I have tried going to a department manager who wouldn't take care of it."

As a result, Brown says she was fired from her California store.

"They should have taken the time to listen to our concerns and address them rather than just firing us and just shrugging us off," she says.

On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board announced it is ready to press charges that Walmart threatened, disciplined or fired more than 100 workers in 13 states for striking and protesting last November.

"That was a procedural step by the national labor relations board, as part of that step they also said that there were charges that had no merit," Lundberg says. "There's still a lot of questions of fact that still need to be answered. We look forward to continuing to work with the NLRB and go through that process."

The NLRB says formal complaints will be filed if Walmart can't settle with the workers in the coming weeks.
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