News

Walmart accused of violating labor laws in 14 states

Walmart accused of violating labor laws in 14 states

WALMART ACCUSED: Photo: Reuters

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Wednesday issued a complaint against Walmart Inc, alleging the world’s largest retailer violated labor laws in 14 states by taking action against striking workers.

A complaint issued by the NLRB’s general counsel’s office said Walmart representatives appeared on national news broadcasts and threatened to retaliate against workers if they went on strike. It also alleged they disciplined and fired workers for engaging in legally protected protest activity.

More than 60 Walmart supervisors and one corporate officer are named in the filing.

“We believe that our actions were valid. We take our obligations very seriously. We look forward to sharing our side of the facts in these cases with a judge,” said Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the world’s largest retailer.

The NLRB, the federal agency that oversees union elections and polices unfair labor practices, investigates 20,000 to 30,000 allegations of National Labor Relations Act violations made annually by employees, unions and employers. More than half are withdrawn or dismissed.

In the Walmart case, a preliminary investigation by the NLRB revealed that charges against the retailer likely had merit. Settlement negotiations were unsuccessful, so one of the board’s 26 regional directors issued a complaint detailing the alleged violations.

Most of the allegations in the complaint released Wednesday focused on management’s response to Walmart workers who participated in strikes at stores in California, Kentucky, Texas, Washington and elsewhere in May and June 2013.

Dozens of employees received verbal and written warnings, formal reprimands and were otherwise disciplined after striking last year for improved wages and working conditions at Walmart stores, according to the complaint.

Walmart also since May 2013 has improperly categorized workers’ time spent participating in legally protected strikes as unexcused absences, the complaint stated.

The NLRB seldom puts out press releases about complaints it is issuing, but it did on Walmart.

The retailer has known since November 2013 that the agency had authorized issuance of a complaint, but a settlement has not been reached. Walmart now has until Jan. 28 to respond to Wednesday’s filing.

The next step is for an NLRB administrative law judge to oversee a trial to determine whether Walmart broke the law. The judge’s findings will then be adopted or rejected by the five-member board.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker and Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Alden Bentley and Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Durbin Weighs in on Cuba Relations

local_news_generic

For the the first time since 1961, the United States is moving towards official diplomatic relations with Cuba — and…

in Local

Hundreds Turn Out in Chatham to Talk Water

Chatham2

Complaints about water quality in Chatham pour in

in Local

Some Want Rail Crossing “Quiet Zones”

railroad

3rd Street corridor too noisy for some residents

in Local

Lincoln Library Receives Sizable Gift

lincoln library

Estate of local icon provides large gift to public library for upgrades

in Local

Topinka Honored, Remembered in Memorial Service

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2002 file photo, Illinois state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka participates in a Republican campaign rally in Springfield, Ill. Topinka, who won a second term for state comptroller in November 2014, died early Wednesday morning, Dec. 10, 2014, less than 24 hours after having a stroke, according to her office. She was 70. Topinka previously served three terms as Illinois state treasurer, was a former Illinois GOP chairwoman and ran for governor in 2006.

Friends, family, and politicians bid their final farewell to Judy Baar Topinka.