April 13, 2005
Food and Commercial Workers File Charge against Wal-Mart On Coughlin “”Union Project””
Washington DC- The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) filed a “”Unfair Labor Practice Charge”” against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charge against Wal-Mart is in response to the serious allegations that former Wal-Mart Board member and Vice Chairman Thomas M. Coughlin, the #2 person at the company, operated an illegal anti-union slush fund as part of a company program to monitor and suppress the democratic right of workers to organize.
In a letter to the NLRB, the UFCW states that “”the charge complains that Wal-Mart, acting through officers, employees and agents, including those at the highest levels of management, systematically denied workers their democratic right to exercise a choice for union representation. Wal-Mart’s actions seemingly involved the criminal misappropriation of company funds to create an illegal anti-union slush fund.””
It also calls on the Board to “”use the NLRB’s subpoena power to obtain all relevant information from Wal-Mart, particularly the documents that are in possession of Wal-Mart according to former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Thomas Coughlin and which, according to Coughlin, substantiate the alleged scheme.””
“”The point of the UFCW filing this charge with the NLRB is simple,”” said UFCW Executive Vice President Bill McDonough. “”The UFCW and the American people deserve to know what Wal-Mart knows about this ‘union project’ and when they knew it.””
In previous filings with the NLRB, Wal-Mart, Inc. has been found guilty of illegally spying, bribing with promotions, firing and intimidating workers. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the latest 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.””