By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON Jan 15 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are withdrawn or dismissed.
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
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 Jan. 28 to respond to
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