For almost two years now, like an angry minnow nibbling at a whale, a coalition of labor groups operating as OURWalmart has been organizing nationwide protests against the retail giant, complaining of low wages, terrible benefits and the company's general hostility toward organized labor.
But it seems to have been the group's "National Week of Action," which took up the first part of June, that caused the whale to resolve to finally crush the minnow.
The retailer sued OURWalmart and a handful of unions in Tarrant County claiming that their shenanigans have crossed the line from legally protected labor demonstrations to illegal disruption of a private business.
Over the last year or so, Defendants have violated Texas law through coordinated statewide acts of trespass. Defendants enter onto Walmart's private property (and oftentimes inside Walmart stores), disrupt operations, refuse to leave when instructed to do so by Walmart management, and leave only when forced to by police or the threat of police intervention. They have blocked ingress and egress to parking lots, parking spaces, vehicular traffic, and store entracnes. They have screamed through bullhorns, paraded around with banners and signs on sticks, conducted in-store "flash mobs," and diverted management and local police from their normal job functions.
Walmart has been cataloging their transgressions with the care of someone contemplating a lawsuit for a long time. On May 24, 2012, demonstrators video bombed a Dallas store by projecting "huge anti-Walmart videos on the side of the store's walls and blar[ing] loud music from a Dodge Nitro van adorned with OURWalmart logos and equipped with video and audio devices."
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The same Dodge Nitro showed up at a Lake Worth store for a video bombing, this time blocking the fire lane. Similar things happened in Ennis and Lancaster. Meanwhile, in Florida, demonstrators chanted "Walmart, Walmart ... fuck you!" In front of their own children, no less.
But all that pales in comparison to what happened in Dallas on Black Friday. Walmarts' lawyers write: "On a boom box, and dressed in Halloweed costumes, they blared the song 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson as they patrolled around the cash registers and apparel departments, threw OURWalmart cards towards associates and customers, yelled anti-Walmart slogans, and blocked the shopping aisles."
Walmart has filed similar lawsuits elsewhere in the country. Labor leaders have responded with defiance. "With $16 billion in annual profits, Walmart can afford to create good jobs for workers at its stores," one group, Jobs with Justice, wrote on its website. "But instead of creating good jobs with steady hours and affordable healthcare, Walmart is focusing its energies on infringing on freedom of speech."
Because if the First Amendment means anything, it's that people can blast "Thriller" wherever they damn well please.