NEW YORK – A union is asking labor regulators to go to court to force Wal-Mart to rehire all 2,200 employees affected by an abrupt temporary closing of five stores a week ago.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, arguing the closings were retaliation for labor activism. Wal-Mart said it closed the stores to fix plumbing issues.
One affected store, in Pico Rivera, California, has been a hotbed for worker protests. It was the first store to wage such protests, in October 2012. The other stores are in Midland and Livingston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Brandon, Florida.
The food and commercial workers union made its filing on behalf of OUR Wal-Mart, a group of Wal-Mart employees that it backs that has pushed for better pay and working conditions.
“This is a new low, even for Wal-Mart,” Venanzi Luna, an eight-year Wal-Mart worker and member of OUR Walmart, said in a statement.
“As we have said all along, these stores were closed temporarily so we could fix the ongoing plumbing issues and it would be unfortunate if this outside group attempts to slow this process down for our associates and customers,” the company said in a statement.
The stores will remain shuttered for up to six months, a Wal-Mart spokesman said.
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