WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Wednesday issued a complaint against
Wal-Mart 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
Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart 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 More than half are withdrawn or
In the Wal-Mart 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
Most of the allegations in the complaint released Wednesday focused
on management's response to Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart stores, according to the complaint.
Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart.
The retailer has known since November 2013 that the agency had
authorized issuance of a complaint, but a settlement has not been
reached. Wal-Mart now has until January 28 to respond to Wednesday's
The next step is for an NLRB administrative law judge to oversee a
trial to determine whether Wal-Mart 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)