Chicopee, MA Long-Time Wal-Mart Worker Tells Why She Was Fired
A Wal-Mart employee of 14 years was fired just before Thanksgiving by the manager of the Wal-Mart store in Chicopee, MA. Sprawl-Busters wrote about this worker, Windy Edick last year on The Huffington Post. Windy has been active in the employee group 'OUR WALMART.' Here is her letter about what really led to her firing:
To Whom It May Concern:
On Friday, November 21, 2014, Walmart terminated me after an investigation of an incident that happened on November 7 in the parking lot of the Walmart store in Chicopee, while I was off the clock and driving in to work. A woman fell down beside my car. The police reviewed the surveillance tape, and it proved my car did not come in contact with the woman. She is suing Walmart.
On November 20, I was called into the manager's office (Dave Ebbling) and was asked to go over the incident again, which I did. I wrote what happened, as he requested. He then asked me and the store's co-manager (Kathy) to leave the room while he made a phone call. After his phone call, he called us back into his office to inform me that there would be an investigation and I was suspended with pay until the investigation was over.
On the evening of November 21, at 5:25, he called my home to tell me the investigation was over and that I was terminated with no further explanation.
Why was I terminated? I realize that I have been speaking out truthfully about Walmart, and I am an outspoken member and leader of OUR Walmart, but Walmart says they "don't participate in retaliation."
In a November 28, 2014, Springfield Republican newspaper article, Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesperson, said, "Ms. Edick was terminated after her safety violation caused a customer fall and injury in our parking lot. She already had active disciplinary coachings for prior policy violations and this violation moved her to the last step of our progressive discipline policy, which resulted in her termination."
Both "coachings" were illegal under labor law and should not be on my record. They were for:
1. absences during the June 2014 strike (shareholders meeting). This was activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act. I filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge, and the absences were marked "conditional status." I thought that meant they would not be used against me, which would be a new Unfair Labor Practice.
2. "soliciting" once in July and again in August. I was discussing OUR Walmart with coworkers. I was off the clock and I was not interfering with any customer service. Disciplining me for this protected activity is an Unfair Labor Practice. I admitted to the one in August, but questioned the one in July (I just don't recall any "soliciting" in July). When I asked to see the video of the July "solicitation," I was told I could not view the video or know who any of the "witnesses" were.
Even if I really did have "disciplinary coachings for prior policy violations," the current incident, as far as I know, was not a Walmart safety policy violation and does not involve any other Walmart policy. I was off the clock and in my private car. I am not aware of any Walmart policy that covers that situation. The lawyers I have consulted are not aware of any connection to Walmart's right to discipline its employees.
For eight of the nearly 14 years I have been with Walmart, I have been speaking out in favor of the associates. Walmart, of course, does not like that, or want that. Walmart has been trying to find a way to fire me for a very long time.
But unfortunately for Walmart, and fortunately for me, I have not given them a reason to let me go. I have followed all of Walmart's legal policies. When I take my 15 minute breaks, I make sure I am back working within 14 minutes. Whenever I need time off, I call in. I have always followed the dress code. I did whatever was legally asked of me. On October 31, 2014, I received an award for "Excellent Care of Our Customers." Regular customers even seek out my check-out line.
Do I feel my firing was a form of retaliation? Absolutely, and it is illegal.
Aubretia "Windy" Edick
What you can do: Readers are urged to call Chicopee, MA Wal-Mart manager Dave Ebbling at 413-593-3192 with the following message:
"Mr. Ebbling, I am calling to urge you to reinstate Windy Edick, who was fired by Wal-Mart on November 21st. This firing appears to be a form of retaliation for Windy's open involvement in the employee group OUR WALMART.
Sam Walton was proud of his company's "open door" policy. But in Windy's case, the open door policy means if you open your mouth, you're out the door.
She has been a good employee, done her job, and been poorly paid and treated for the past 14 years. Take her back and give her a raise!"