Walmart has fired five workers who participated in strikes and demonstrations against the company’s labor practices, the labor organization aiding Walmart workers said Friday. The Nation’s Josh Eidelson reported Saturday that the workers were among the 100 who left work and went to Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters earlier this month. Other workers who participated were suspended or disciplined.
Walmart told The Nation that the firings were not for participation in the strikes, but for violating Walmart’s attendance policy. “We are applying the attendance policy to individual absences in the same way we do for other associates,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “There were other associates who participated in these recent union activities [and] did not receive any discipline because their absence in the individual circumstances did not trigger our attendance rules.”
Walmart workers originally struck on Black Friday in November to protest low wages and benefit cuts even as the retail giant raked in millions in profits. Walmart made $15 billion in 2011 and paid its chief executive $18.1 million. Demonstrations have continued across the country since.
American labor law stipulates that, in most instances, firing or disciplining workers for participating in strikes is illegal. In 2012, workers at Target made similar intimidation claims when the retailer closed stores where workers had attempted to form a union, and the National Labor Relations Board ruled in their favor.