Chalk one up for the union. A report in the Las Vegas Sun says that a federal Judge has ruled that Wal-Mart broke labor laws in its effort to keep the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) out of 14 of its stores in Las Vegas. Judge Albert Metz, responding to a National Labor Relations Board complaint, ordered Wal-Mart to: Post notices at three Las Vegas stores pledging to obey the law; Stop preventing its employees from distributing union materials; Stop
confiscating union literature from employees; Stop enforcing no-solicitation rules he called overly broad and discriminatory; Stop interrogating and threatening employees with loss of benefits; Honor requests by employees that they be provided with an employee witness during any investigatory interview that may result in discipline; Reverse disciplinary action against two union supporters. The UFCW had charged Wal-Mart with unfair laboar practices over a one year period ending May, 2001. The NLRB charged that at least Wal-Mart management staff “disparaged workers” who supported a union, and told the workers ” they weren’t worthy of working at Wal-Mart or invited them to quit.” The Judge ordered Wal-Mrt to give one worker back pay and a new position at the store, and to cleanse the disciplinary records of two others. Across the country, the NLRB has 30 complaints pending against Wal-Mart, plus 7 more cases that Wal-Mart has appealed to the NRLB in Washington, D.C. The Judge found that a Wal-Mart manager, who tore up union literature, had “interfered with, restrained and coerced an employee in the exercise of his protected rights under the (NLRB) Act.” The company also refused to hire a worker for an upgrade position because of her union views. The UFCW said that the Las Vegas ruling was significant because it “represents one of the first times, where on such a broadscale basis, Wal-Mart has been forced to obey the
law…It is unpredecented in that the decision affects workers in more than one store,” the union said. “It’s a tremendous victory for workers against
Wal-Mart management that had engaged in a program of systematically violating federal labor laws. Wal-Mart claims that it allows workers free choice of unionization. This decision demonstrates that Wal-Mart’s claims are false.” A spokesman for the NLRB’s in Las Vegas noted that “If Wal-Mart continues to engage in this conduct, we can take them to federal court and try to get sanctions against them.” Another NLRB complaint against 23 managers at three of Wal-Mart’s Las Vegas-area Sam’s Club is now pending before an administrative law judge in San Francisco. The UFCW charges that Sam’s Club hired numerous workers to dilute the “union supporters’ majority status” and solicited from workers letters requesting the union to withdraw its petition for a union election.
“I have always believed strongly,” Sam Walton wrote, “that we don’t need unions at Wal-Mart.” Apparently that belief is strong enough to sanction Wal-Mart’s violation of federal law. This case shows that Wal-Mart does not play by the rules, and that in the competition to organize Wal-Mart workers, the company is prepared to make up its own set of rules. For similar stories, search this database by “union” or “UFCW”.