In a statement on its Web site, the union said that the unfair labor practice charge is being levied based on allegations that former Wal-Mart Board member and Vice Chairman Thomas Coughlin operated an illegal anti-union slush fund as part of a company program to monitor and suppress the right of workers to organize. The union alleges that such practices took place in 13 states.
According to the UFCW letter to the NLRB, “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.”
The fund was allegedly used to pay union staffers to reveal the identities of pro-union workers at Wal-Mart stores, according to the union. The union is calling on the NLRB to subpoena any documents from the giant retailer that might support such charges.
Wal-Mart has consistently said that its open communication with employees makes it so that there is no need for unionization of its workers; however, union groups, including the UFCW, claim that the chain is anti-union.
The UFCW has been waging an often-bitter organizing war against Wal-Mart since at least 1998. At one point, the retailer got a court order barring union officials from Wal-Mart’s 3,200 US stores, to keep the UFCW from getting a toe hold anywhere in its organization. (See Wal-Mart’s Union Fight as Hot as Ever in Court and NLRB ).