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Walmart workers say company retaliates against union organizers

Sept. 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The labor group OUR Walmart said the U.S. retail giant intimidated workers to break up organized labor efforts that included cross-country events Thursday.

"People are scared because they see how Walmart retaliates. Not everyone has spoken out because of the reality of losing their jobs," said Colby Harris, a member of OUR Walmart and a Walmart employee from Dallas, MSNBC reported.

MSNBC said two fired Walmart workers and one current worker were arrested in New York Thursday during one of many organized labor events that OUR Walmart said they had planned for the day. The report did not say why they were arrested.

The group claims the company retaliates against workers who attempt to organize workers or draw attention to what they say are low wages.

In New York, OUR Walmart members attempted to deliver a petition concerning wages to Walmart director Christopher Williams. The petition demanded all workers at the retail chain receive a minimum salary of $25,000 per year.

The petition demanded the company stop retaliating against striking workers. MSNBC said.

"We actually have a very strict policy against retaliation at Walmart," company spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said.

"The associates who were terminated were terminated for other reasons, violating our policies, and it did not have anything to do with their association with this group or any other group," Buchanan said, referring to 20 workers OUR Walmart says were laid off as punishment for their efforts to organize workers.

Workers involved in legitimate strikes are protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Buchanan said recent strikes were merely "a handful of union-orchestrated media stunts" and Kory Lundberg, another company spokesman, called them "hit-and-run intermittent work stoppages that are part of a coordinated union plan."

OUR Walmart said it had planned events in 15 cities for Thursday. Participation was expected to be light and OUR Walmart purposefully did not plan any strikes due to fears the company would retaliate, the group said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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