NLRB to rule quickly on Wal-Mart walkout

A worker pulls a line of shopping carts A worker pulls a line of shopping carts toward a Walmart store in North Kingstown, R.I. (Nov. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Federal labor officials said Monday they will decide quickly whether to support a request by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from encouraging worker walkouts at hundreds of stores on Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said that the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other associates.

OUR Walmart, formed in 2010 to press the company for better working conditions, is made up of current and former Wal-Mart workers.

"We are working as fast as we can," said Nancy Cleeland, a spokeswoman at the NLRB, to take affidavits. It's also in touch with the UFCW for its response. "This is a complicated case," Cleeland said. She noted that if the labor board decides Wal-Mart's complaint has merit, the matter then goes to district court.

Wal-Mart faced a worker walkout in October ahead of its annual investor meeting that expanded to more than a dozen states and involved about 90 workers. Wal-Mart workers again walked off their jobs last week in Dallas, Oakland, Calif., and Seattle. Monday some Wal-Mart workers walked off their jobs as well, according to union officials. The number of workers involved could not be confirmed.

Union officials promise the demonstrations will culminate on Black Friday with demonstrations or walkouts at hundreds of stores across the country.

Wal-Mart's U.S. division employs about 1.3 million workers.

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