Wal-Mart wrongly fired workers for striking and must rehire them, labor board rules

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. retaliated against workers for participating in strikes and must rehire 16 former employees, including seven in California.

The retail giant was also ordered to give these employees back pay. The company must hold meetings at 29 stores throughout the country to inform employees about their right to strike and vow not to retaliate or threaten them for doing so.
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FOR THE RECORD:

Wal-Mart: An article in the Jan. 22 Business section said that the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. retaliated against workers for participating in strikes and must rehire and give back pay to those workers. The article also said that at 29 stores where workers were disciplined or fired for strike-related absences, the company was ordered to tell workers that that such organizing activity is protected, and that Wal-Mart must vow not to retaliate or threaten them for striking. The NLRB hasn't made a ruling. An administrative law judge issued those findings and recommendations, which now go to the labor board.
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Wal-Mart workers have held demonstrations and protests at stores around the U.S. in recent years as part of a nationwide movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Last year, Wal-Mart temporarily closed five stores, including one in Pico Rivera, for what the company said were plumbing issues. But labor activists said the closures were intended to punish workers who have campaigned for higher pay — an accusation that Wal-Mart denies.

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Wal-Mart said it disagrees with the recommended findings.

"We will pursue all of our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified," the company said in a statement. "We are focused on providing our hard working associates more opportunity for success and career growth by raising wages, providing new training, education and expanded  benefit options.”

In California, the workers who will be rehired include one in Lakewood, three in Placerville and two in Richmond.

Wal-Mart has also been ordered to tell workers at the 29 stores where workers were disciplined or fired for strike-related absences that such organizing activity is protected. Four California stores are on the list, including Pico Rivera, where two employees were disciplined, according to the order.

Wal-Mart “took swift action against associates after they returned from strike,” the ruling said, “and thereby sent a message to all associates at the store that similar protected activity would lead to disciplinary action.”

A Wal-Mart representative did not respond to an email requesting comment late Thursday after the ruling was issued.

shan.li@latimes.com

Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ByShanLi

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UPDATE

10:53 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Wal-Mart.

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