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Union agrees to back off Wal-Mart protests

By Anne D'Innocenzio

AP Retail Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:07 a.m. HST, Jan 31, 2013

Labor groups say they will end most of their picketing of Wal-Mart stores as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board.

The agreement, announced by Wal-Mart, comes after the discounter filed a complaint in late November with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said that demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart that culminated on the day after Thanksgiving threatened to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other store workers.

OUR Walmart is made up of former and current Wal-Mart workers.

Meanwhile, OUR Walmart filed its own charge with the labor board. It cited attempts by Wal-Mart to deter workers from participating in what the group called legally protected walkouts.

At issue were what constitutes picketing and whether the activity was aimed at gaining recognition for the union.

Union officials have argued that the walk-outs and demonstrations are to protest what it believes are Wal-Mart's retaliation tactics against workers who publicly speak out about working conditions and wages. The tactics allegedly include scheduling changes and reduction in workers' hours. OUR Walmart had argued that because the planned walkouts are in protest of what it believes are unfair labor practices, workers are legally protected under federal labor law.

Wal-Mart faced a worker walk-out last October ahead of its annual investor meeting that expanded to more than a dozen states and involved about 90 workers. Those efforts intensified on the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, known as "Black Friday."

The agreement, announced today, will stop picketing and "confrontational conduct" at Wal-Mart facilities for at least 60 days.

In a letter to the National Labor Relations Board from the UFCW that was supplied by Wal-Mart, the labor group said that it has no intent in "forcing or requiring employees of Wal-Mart to accept or select UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representatives of its employees."

"We appreciate the thorough efforts of the NLRB in its investigation," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "Many of the union's demonstrations and pickets used before Black Friday were illegal."

The UFCW couldn't be reached immediately for a comment.

UFCW organizers have been working to unionize Wal-Mart workers and have campaigned for the company to pay its employees more and offer better benefits.

AP Writer Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark. contributed to this report.

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frontman wrote:
See, the unions got the payoff they were after ... so no need to protest until they want to protestl for more money.
on January 31,2013 | 10:11AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Unions are the scourge of society. There should be legislation about who can have a union and what they are capable of doing. You would be surprised at what tactics they can do. They are downright criminal. They can hold your child's education hostage or hold a whole airport hostage as can be seen in the air traffic controller debacle durinig the Reagan era. Reagan ultimately fired them all. Maybe the state should fire the teachers and make such a position non-union as some federal departments are. Unfortunately, like other racketeering, unions have their hands in politicians' pockets.
on January 31,2013 | 10:13AM
Fred01 wrote:
The problem is not unions. It is public unions.
on January 31,2013 | 11:40AM
Labor wrote:
Where does it say they got money?
on January 31,2013 | 10:21AM
9ronboz wrote:
goons at work. unionized walmart and so goes the discount
on January 31,2013 | 11:18AM
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