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Today (literally) in labor history, November 23, 2012: Workers employed at Walmart — the nation’s largest private-sector employer — strike nationwide for better wages and working conditions. Walmart, whose net sales in 2011 were $443.9 billion, pays its 1.4 million workers in the U.S. an average of $8.81/hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours a week and don’t qualify for benefits.
Weeks into a wave of historic strikes, and days before a planned Black Friday showdown, Walmart has filed a National Labor Relations Board charge alleging that the pickets are illegal and asking for a judge to shut them down. Walmart is no stranger to the NLRB: labor groups have filed numerous charges there accusing the retail giant of punishing or threatening activist workers, including dozens over the past few months. But this charge is the first one filed by the company in a decade. It will pose a decision for a judge and, even sooner, for the Labor Board’s Obama-appointed acting general counsel, who’s been a lightning rod for past Republican attacks.