WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The National Labor Relations Board here said it will require Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., to allow workers in the meat and seafood department in a Palestine, Texas, supercenter to hold a union vote.
The NLRB also said it would hold a hearing today in response to a petition to organize filed by workers in a meat and seafood department at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Ocala, Fla.
Meanwhile, meat and seafood workers at a supercenter in Normal, Ill., have also petitioned the NLRB to organize.
The NLRB's decision in favor of an election among the 15 meat and seafood department workers in Palestine follows the first successful union vote at a Wal-Mart operation last month in Jacksonville, Texas. As reported, meat and seafood workers in that supercenter voted 7 to 3 to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Wal-Mart is challenging the Jacksonville election, maintaining the union acted inappropriately in courting meat workers to join the UFCW.
Also, as previously reported, Wal-Mart announced after the successful union vote that the Jacksonville supercenter would be one of the 180 stores in six states where only prepackaged meat would soon be sold, a move that would eliminate the unionized department.
The chain -- which had been successful in beating back organizing attempts at its empire of 2,485 U.S. stores -- also plans to appeal the NLRB's decision requiring a vote at the Palestine store.
As in Jacksonville, Wal-Mart officials argue the small meat and seafood department in Palestine shouldn't be treated apart from other workers at the supercenter, which employs a total of 365 workers.
"We continue to fail to understand why the board can continue to isolate such a small group of associates to participate in an election," a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said. "It takes all our associates working together to make our stores a success. The unions know they don't have support in these stores and that's why they try and limit these elections."
A UFCW spokeswoman said there will be "many more votes" to organize Wal-Mart workers. The union is now just focusing on the meat departments since there have been a lot of inquiries about organizing from workers there. Workers are seeking union representation because of lower salaries compared with unionized competitors, a lack of a voice regarding workplace conditions and a chance to bargain for better benefits, the spokeswoman said.