August 4, 2003
(Kingman, Arizona) – Wal-Mart has been forced to reinstate a worker from its Kingman, Arizona Tire and Lube Express department and provide him back pay. An administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered Wal-Mart to rehire Brad Jones who was fired on February 28, 2002 in retaliation for his efforts to organize a union and compensate him with back pay.
A majority of the 18 associates working in the Tire and Lube Express at the Kingman, Arizona Wal-Mart Supercenter signed cards authorizing the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 99R to give them an organized voice on wages, health benefits, scheduling and working conditions. The UFCW filed a petition with the NLRB for a secret ballot union representation election in August, 2000.
The NLRB blocked the election due to Wal-Mart’s systematic intimidation and other illegal activities against its workers. But Wal-Mart’s campaign against the union supporters didn’t end. Brad Jones, one of three leaders in the union effort at the store, was a “”marked man,”” according to the ALJ.
The judge found that Store Manager, Jim Winkler, had targeted the three outspoken union supporters by directing supervisors to hold them to a higher standard and “”wait for them to screw up.”” Two employees left and the third, Jones, was singled out by management. Jones was fired two days after receiving a good yearly performance review which included a 4% salary increase.
During the campaign, the judge found that Wal-Mart illegally monitored workers by placing an inexperienced manager from Bentonville, Arkansas in the department to fill a vacancy. The executive had no experience as was unable to work alongside the TLE employees as the job required. His assignment, it seemed, was to carry out surveillance on the workers, a clear violation of their federal rights.
The judge’s ruling also found that Wal-Mart failed to enforce its non-harassment policy when an anti-union worker was harassing two union supporters. The victims suffered from their colleagues’ harassment about their weight and religious beliefs. Despite several appeals to management to protect the victims, Wal-Mart refused.
Wal-Mart’s illegal tactics in Kingman, Arizona exposed further illegal threats to workers across the country. The company’s “”Associate Benefits Book”” which outlines conditions for eligibility for various benefits expressly stated that associates represented by a union are not eligible for coverage. The Judge ordered that Wal-Mart reprint and amend its benefit book to reflect that union-represented workers’ benefits are determined through the collective bargaining process and that union-represented workers will remain eligible for benefits during bargaining.
Wal-Mart is also required to post notices in every location admitting its violations of the law and promising not to discriminate against union-represented workers. The ALJ decision in Kingman is the first time Wal-Mart has been ordered to make a national remedy to its illegal anti-union tactics.