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 More than half are withdrawn or dismissed.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

7 hours ago in National

‘Flags in’ for Memorial Day weekend

flags16146721748085

The tradition marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend activities around the nation.

8 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is a totally pointless, boring sequel

17-overlay-3

Not even Johnny Depp - reliable as ever inside a fright wig and exaggerated make up - can save this sequel.

10 hours ago in National

Trump wins the Republican nomination for president

trumpAP

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president.

11 hours ago in Entertainment

Stage is set for toughest National Spelling Bee ever

11-overlay-15

The final day of the Scripps National Spelling Bee could feature the most difficult words ever used in the competition.

12 hours ago in National

TSA chief: Help is on the way to address long airport lines

15-overlay-14

The head of the Transportation Security Administration said the beleaguered agency will add 768 new screeners by mid-June to deal with increasingly long airport security lines that have caused passengers to miss flights even before the busy summer travel season.