BOSTON — An Arkansas Supreme Court judge has reversed a decision barring the United Food & Commercial Workers union from entering Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart Stores nationwide in order to solicit store associates.

The July 3 ruling — the latest step in protracted wrangling between the retailer and the UFCW for the loyalties of more than a million U.S. store associates — overturns a 2001 injunction arguing the retailer faced immediate harm from such union activities. In a 17-page report, the state Supreme Court found Wal-Mart’s inability to demonstrate “irreparable harm” as the basis for reversal.

The action does not affect Wal-Mart’s power to enforce its current “no solicitation, no distribution” policies by asking offenders to leave or face trespassing charges, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman contended.

“The court ruled the injunction was not the proper remedy,” the spokeswoman said. “They would no longer be violating a court order, but they would still be trespassing.”

She said the action has been remanded to trial court for further review.

Wal-Mart sought its first injunction against the UFCW in 1999 when the union started “blitz” actions including visiting Arkansas stores in groups, entering employee-only areas, chanting at registers, filling and abandoning carts, and blocking aisles, the retailer’s spokeswoman said.

No union member was arrested for trespassing during these incidents. The UFCW successfully argued the extension of the Arkansas injunction nationwide was improper.

“Wal-Mart has been brought down to size,” said the union spokeswoman. “This action shows they can’t get a hometown, handpicked judge to make store policies rule of law throughout the country.”

The UFCW, representing 1.4 million workers, has been aggressively pursuing representation among Wal-Mart’s rank and file. Last November, they staged national protests against the company’s wage and hour policies.

The retailer has remained steadfastly opposed to unions, saying it compensates fairly, provides stock opportunities and has an open-door policy for associates to report grievances.

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