U.S. Labor Board may issue complaint against Wal-Mart on strikes

Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:16pm EST
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By Carlyn Kolker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. National Labor Relations Board on Monday said it has authorized legal action against Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) for allegedly retaliating against workers who participated in strikes against the company over low pay.

Groups of Walmart workers went on strike nationwide on November 22, 2012, to protest the retailer's wages and worker benefits. The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is typically the busiest shopping day of the year. The workers also went on strike in May and June before the company's annual shareholder meeting.

The company retaliated against employees who joined those strikes by firing them, threatening to fire them or disciplining them, the NLRB said in a statement on Monday. The labor board also said that a Walmart spokesman made comments on television threatening workers who planned to join the November protests.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company disagrees with the board's action.

"We believe this is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified," she said. "The fact is we provide good jobs and unparalleled opportunities for our associates."


The NLRB is the U.S. agency that enforces the nation's labor laws. It oversees union elections, polices unfair labor practice claims and is charged with enforcing the U.S. National Labor Relations Act, which allows employees to work together to improve their workplace conditions.

The NLRB's general counsel's office would bring any complaint against the retailer if one results. Last month a divided Senate confirmed a former union lawyer to the general counsel's position, essentially the agency's top prosecutor.   Continued...

Walmart workers on strike walk a picket line during a protest over unsafe working conditions and poor wages outside a Walmart store in Pico Rivera, California, October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn