Wal-Mart Battles With Employees Over New Labor App

(REUTERS/Andrew Nelles)

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Wal-Mart is reportedly warning its employees to not download an app designed by a labor group that is advocating for higher pay and increased benefits.

The app, released Monday, allows Wal-Mart employees to chat with one another, free from management’s eyes. The creators behind the app is “OUR Walmart,” a non-union labor group that partnered with a software development company to create the app.

The app, named WorkIt, is described by its creators as a free mobile application for employees “to get advice on workplace rights and policies from a group of trained peer advisors and other workers.”

The developers explain that the app’s “trained advisors are current and former Walmart Associates who are volunteering their time to provide support and advice to other Associates.”

Wal-Mart has reportedly reached out to its store managers, warning that the labor group is “increasingly trying to get our associates to turn over personal information to the union by using deceptive and slick-looking social media and mobile apps,” according to a document viewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The app, once downloaded, asks users to register by providing a name, email, phone number and zip code. Users have the option to list their job title on the app, but it isn’t a requirement.

Bloomberg reported that the Bloomberg reported that the app “answers questions about Walmart’s policies and workplace rights” by using IBM’s artificial intelligence bot, Watson.

OUR Walmart is not a traditional union, because its members do not currently possess collective bargaining rights. The group separated itself from the United Food and Commercial Workers International, which has been fighting to organize Wal-Mart associates for years.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg told the Wall Street Journal that “there is no way to know if the details this group is pushing are correct.” Lundberg characterized OUR Walmart as an outside group attempting to collect “as much personal and private information as possible.”

OUR Walmart takes credit for Wal-Mart’s decision to raise wages and offer more flexibility in scheduling last year, a claim that Wal-Mart asserts is false.

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