A union is seeking an injunction to force Wal-Mart to rehire 2,200 workers laid off when the retailer suddenly closed five stores last week for what it said were needed plumbing repairs.
Among the shuttered stores is one in Pico Rivera, where workers have aggressively advocated for higher wages and took part in the first Wal-Mart strike in 2012.
In a filing with the National Labor Relations Board, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union alleged that the closing was retaliatory and sought to punish workers "who stand up and speak out for better working conditions."
It alleged that four other stores were closed -- also for what it said were dubious plumbing reasons -- to "mask" Wal-Mart's retaliatory decision against Pico Rivera workers.
The union filed the request Monday on behalf of Our Wal-Mart, a group of employees that is fighting for higher wages and is supported by the union.
Wal-Mart, in a statement, said that there was no basis for an injunction. It said the five stores are being closed temporarly to fix plumbing problems and that the affected locations had the most issues of its more than 5,000 U.S. stores.
Brian Nick, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said that the company hopes it can re-open the stores for the holiday season and that laid-off employees will receive two months of pay and benefits, as required under federal law. If they qualify, additional severance will be given, he said.