Walmart gets Ohio court order restraining union front groups

By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog

A Cincinnati judge blocked United Food & Commercial Workers from demonstrating in Walmart’s Ohio stores last week, hampering the organizing efforts of wealthy union bosses.

In a Nov. 24 court order, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert C. Winkler granted a preliminary injunction forbidding UFCW organizers and supporters not employed by Walmart from “entering onto Walmart’s private property in the State of Ohio” to engage in any of a long list of common union activities.

SOLIDARITY? UFCW Local 75 Secretary Treasurer Steve Culter was paid $355,400 in 2013

Winkler’s order limited the ability of union agitators to disrupt Walmart’s business on Black Friday. UFCW International headquarters in Washington, D.C., and UFCW Local 75 in Dayton proudly admit coordinated Black Friday protests are meant to hit the retailer on “the biggest shopping day of the year.”

One of the largest employers in the United States, Walmart is a huge target for UFCW unionization. Although UFCW bosses in D.C. are paid more than $300,000 and take mandatory dues in Ohio and other forced-unionism states, Walmart workers and customers have been subjected to the union’s pseudo-populism for years.

UFCW Local 75, which represents workers in retail sales and other entry-level jobs in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, had 29,925 members as of Dec. 31, 2013. UFCW Local 75 secretary treasurer Steve Culter was paid $355,400 in 2013, while union president Lennie Wyatt was paid $328,116.

The Ohio injunction against the union specifically forbids “picketing, patrolling, parading, demonstrations, chanting, ‘flash mobs,’ handbilling, solicitation, customer disruptions, manager delegations or confrontations, or associate engagement for a non-shopping purpose.”

UFCW and its allies are also forbidden from “interfering with, obstructing, or blocking” Walmart entrances, and from “engaging in any nuisance conduct off Walmart’s private property which disrupts and/or interferes with Walmart customers’ or associates’ access to, or ability to move around on or exit” Walmart property.

Union organizers who are not Walmart employees “unlawfully trespassed onto and into Walmart’s private property and stores across Ohio” and “have continued to trespass onto Walmart’s private property and conduct demonstrations on Walmart’s private property” after being told to stop, Winkler wrote on Nov. 24.

Winkler found that UFCW’s “unauthorized entries onto Walmart’s private property throughout the State of Ohio are likely to continue in the future and a substantial and irreparable injury to Walmart and its property would be unavoidable” in the absence of a restraining order.

At Thanksgiving and throughout the year, UFCW organizing campaign Making Change at Walmart works with UFCW front group Organization United for Respect at Walmart to demand full-time hours and $15 per hour starting pay for all Walmart workers as a pretext for unionizing. Ohio’s legacy media reporters seem happy to help.

In a Friday Cincinnati Enquirer story about an OUR Walmart protest, reporter Henry Molski failed to identify OUR Walmart as an arm of UFCW and noted only in passing that the protest in the Cincinnati suburb of Evendale violated a court order.

“The OUR Walmart protests were also met with the approval of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO),” Molski wrote. UFCW is an AFL-CIO affiliate — something Molski didn’t acknowledge because he didn’t mention UFCW at all.

A Friday Cleveland Plain Dealer story on similar protests gave the false impression of broad support for UFCW-operated Making Change at Walmart by describing it as “a campaign that includes the United Food & Commercial Workers.” Reporter Olivera Perkins made the same error in her Nov. 20 story about a study paid for by UFCW.

UFCW Local 75, in addition to demanding $15 hourly pay and full-time hours for Walmart workers, supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposes right-to-work laws, which allow workers to opt out of paying union bosses without being fired.

In an attempt to bolster support for its political agenda, UFCW Local 75 warns members “corporations and the super-rich” are spending big “to create an even more unbalanced economy where the rich get richer, the powerful stay in power, and working people have no mechanism to fight back.”

UFCW Local 75 didn’t respond to a request for comment on the conflict between union politics and union officer pay. No further hearings have been scheduled on Walmart’s complaint in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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