April 10, 2005
Washington DC—Today’s Wall Street Journal revealed that former Wal-Mart Board member and Vice Chairman Thomas M. Coughlin, the #2 person at the company, alleges that he operated an illegal anti-union slush fund as part of a company program to suppress the democratic freedom of workers to make a choice for a union voice at work.
The UFCW calls on the company to publicize all documents connected with the U.S. attorney’s criminal probe of the Coughlin case.
Wal-Mart has already been found guilty of illegally spying, bribing with promotions, firing and intimidating workers. According to the Wall Street Journal, these revelations, if true, mean that Wal-Mart’s anti-worker, anti-union program “would represent a criminal offense under the federal Taft-Hartly Act,”—a federal felony to pay employees to persuade coworkers to abandon support for union representation.
The Journal also reported that Coughlin “is expected to use the ‘union project’ as part of his defense to the charges about mismanagement of funds.”
“We are deeply disturbed by these allegations of Wal-Mart’s anti-union activity,” stated UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Bill McDonough. These are serious criminal offenses and cast Wal-Mart’s systematic anti-worker activities on a much more sinister level. Wal-Mart should not try and cover up its activities but should do the right thing and make all of the documents public immediately.”