BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board said in a ruling made public last week that Wal-Mart Stores here must negotiate with the union representing workers at a meat department the company closed nearly three years ago.
Judge Keltner Locke said Wal-Mart had committed unfair labor practices by refusing to engage in collective bargaining with the meat department in a Jacksonville, Texas, store that was represented by a United Food and Commercial Workers local between February and July 2000, when the store substituted case-ready for store-cut meat and eliminated the department.
The administrative law judge ordered Wal-Mart to negotiate with the UFCW local as the representative of the former employees and to supply the union with information it had requested in July 2002. Mike Leonard, the UFCW's executive vice president, said, "This is a historic decision -- the first bargaining order issued against Wal-Mart in the United States. It is a victory for all Wal-Mart workers who are fighting for a voice at work." Wal-Mart said it will appeal this part of the decision.
Locke's ruling also let stand an unsuccessful union organizing vote in April 2000 at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Palestine, Texas. He ruled that the UFCW failed to prove that Wal-Mart had acted illegally to intimidate workers from supporting the union. The UFCW said it would appeal this part of the decision.
Terry Srsen, Wal-Mart's vice president of labor relations, said, "We are pleased with most of the judge's ruling. It is gratifying for us to see our positions upheld."