WASHINGTON — U.S. labor groups filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday calling for an investigation into allegations that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated election laws by warning employees to vote against Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) for president because he supports legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionize.
In conjunction, four labor groups also filed a petition with the FEC containing 60,000 signatures requesting an investigation.
A Wal-Mart spokesman denied the allegations Thursday and provided a letter sent Aug. 1 by the retailer’s chief operating officer, Bill Simon, to thousands of employees. The letter said the company did not encourage its workers to vote against Democrats, particularly Obama, when it held several training sessions across the country to outline why it opposes a bill that would allow a card check system, instead of a closed-ballot vote, to determine whether workers want to join a labor union.
“Our policies are clear and we have communicated to our associates that, if anyone representing our company gave the impression we were telling associates how to vote, they were wrong and acting without approval,” the Wal-Mart spokesman said. “We believe that, if the FEC looks into this, they will find what we’ve known all along: that we did nothing wrong.”
The dispute between Wal-Mart and the labor groups grew out of a Wall Street Journal story published Aug. 1 that quoted several unnamed Wal-Mart employees who said the company held meetings with U.S. store managers to discuss a pending bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act. At the meetings, the managers allegedly warned that, if Obama wins the presidency, he likely would push the bill through Congress. Obama is a co-sponsor of the legislation, which stalled in Congress this year.
In their complaint, the American Rights at Work, AFL-CIO, Change to Win and Wakeupwalmart.com, said: “There is reason to believe that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has made prohibited corporate expenditures by expressly advocating against Sen. Obama’s election to employees.”
Under federal election rules, according to the complaint, a company such as Wal-Mart can advocate for or against a federal candidate to a “restricted class” of employees, including executive or administrative personnel who are “paid on a salary rather than [an] hourly basis, and who have policy-making, managerial and other salaried lower-level supervisory responsibilities.”
The complaint alleged that Wal-Mart violated the law by urging hourly employees to vote against Obama.
A Wakeupwalmart.com spokeswoman said in an interview that the organization has received calls from 20 to 30 Wal-Mart employees over the past six weeks who attended the company’s meetings and said they felt that the retailer was telling them to vote against Obama and Democrats because if the legislation passes, “they could lose their jobs.”
In the letter to employees, Simon acknowledged that the company did hold “training sessions” with managers and hourly supervisors to discuss the Employee Free Choice Act, which it opposes.
“We believe that the ‘card-check bill’ is bad for business and have been on record as opposing it for some time,” wrote Simon.
He said later in the letter that Wal-Mart has given equally to Democrats and Republicans, and it “does not take sides” when it comes to politics.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye