Nation & World

Walmart acknowledges labor violations

Chain now will permit union logos

Reuters

A shopper walks down an aisle in a Walmart store in Chicago.
Reuters A shopper walks down an aisle in a Walmart store in Chicago.

Walmart has settled a long-running battle with labor activists over the punishment of workers who said they were mistreated by managers for supporting efforts to organize by wearing union insignia.

The agreement, obtained by Bloomberg News, forces Walmart to publicly acknowledge in some of its California stores that it violated federal labor law and to stop threatening workers who support strikes or organization efforts.

The settlement — reached by the retailer, the National Labor Relations Board and advocacy group OUR Walmart — also will wipe out disciplinary actions taken against six employees in its Richmond, Calif.-based store who staged a peaceful protest in 2012.

In addition, Walmart must drop an employee dress code that bans clothing bearing union insignia.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer with a workforce of 1.5 million, has worked for years to fend off labor unions’ efforts to organize its workers. The settlement may indicate the chain is more interested in reaching deals brokered by President Donald Trump’s NLRB than it was when a majority of the board was appointed by Barack Obama.

“We are very pleased to put this lengthy case behind us,” Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said. “We continue to believe our customers and associates have a right to a welcoming and comfortable store experience.”

NLRB officials declined to comment on the deal.

In the California case, the NLRB concluded in 2016 Walmart took illegal action against the employees who stopped work. While the case was on appeal, the parties worked out a settlement, according to a copy of the deal.

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