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Labor Board to Act Swiftly on Wal-Mart’s Complaint

New York Times (11/20/12) Steven Greenhouse

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board, which usually takes weeks or months to investigate complaints, indicated on Nov. 19 that it will decide within days whether there is merit to Wal-Mart’s complaint, filed on Nov. 15, to seek an injunction to stop anti-Wal-Mart protests scheduled to culminate on the day after Thanksgiving. NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said the type of complaint filed by Wal-Mart would be handled quickly because such complaints, asserting illegal picketing, take priority over other labor board cases under federal labor law. Cleeland said the labor board was already investigating around 20 charges filed by individual Wal-Mart employees and OUR Walmart, including retaliating against protesting workers by firing them or cutting their hours.

Wal-Mart filed its complaint the same day that a union-backed employees’ group, OUR Walmart, announced its plans to hold hundreds of protests at Wal-Mart stores across the country. Wal-Mart asserts that the protests violate a law that prohibits picketing for more than 30 days when a union is seeking recognition. Wal-Mart says that the group’s rolling protests have gone on for more than 30 days and are actually sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which helped found OUR Walmart last year. The company contends that the food and commercial workers union is seeking union recognition from Wal-Mart.