Newspaper article International New York Times

Claim Seeks the Rehiring of 2,200 Employees at Walmart ; Labor Group Says Closing of 5 Locations Is Related to Workers' Activism

Newspaper article International New York Times

Claim Seeks the Rehiring of 2,200 Employees at Walmart ; Labor Group Says Closing of 5 Locations Is Related to Workers' Activism

Article excerpt

A claim says that the five store closings were in retaliation for a history of labor activism at one of the shuttered stores.

A group representing Walmart workers laid off after the abrupt closing of five stores last week in the United States planned to seek an injunction on Monday from the National Labor Relations Board that would require the retailer to rehire all 2,200 affected workers.

Walmart said that the closings were temporary and had been prompted by plumbing issues at the five stores, in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. Officials at the retailer said they would do their best to rehire the workers at other stores or at the five stores, once they reopened.

But a claim set to be filed on Monday by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union with the National Labor Relations Board said that the closings were in retaliation for a history of labor activism at one of the shuttered stores, in Pico Rivera, Calif. The union is acting on behalf of Our Walmart, a group that has helped the stores' workers air their claims but is not a union itself.

The Pico Rivera store was the site of the first strike at a Walmart store in the United States, in 2012, organized by a workers' group backed by the union. The strike was over pay and working conditions for the retailer's hourly wage workers. Since then, store employees have led actions demanding changes to Walmart's hours and pregnancy policies, access to full-time, consistent work and at least $15 an hour in pay for workers at the retailer's 4,500 stores across the country.

"Walmart has targeted this store because the associates have been among the most active associates around the country to improve working conditions," the claim said.

It asks the labor relations board to compel Walmart to immediately rehire all 2,200 associates laid off in the five stores, either by reopening those stores or by transferring workers to other stores without any loss of pay.

A Walmart spokesman, Lorenzo Lopez, said on Sunday, "We don't believe there is a basis for an injunction that would interfere with our efforts to repair the serious plumbing issues at the five stores. …

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