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Groups Pressure Wal-Mart Over Wages in U.S.

A number of organizations on Monday urged the retailer to pay associates a minimum of $25,000 a year and provide full-time work.

The AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers union, MoveOn.org, United Students Against Sweatshops, Interfaith Worker Justice and other groups on Monday urged Wal-Mart to pay associates a minimum of $25,000 a year and provide full-time work.

The leaders of the organizations asked their membership to support Wal-Mart workers by protesting against the company on Black Friday. During the call, a member of OurWalmart revealed that the National Labor Relations Board said it is issuing a decision to prosecute Wal-Mart for widespread violations of workers’ rights.

The NLRB said, “The Office of the General Counsel found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others. If the parties cannot reach settlements in the cases, complaints will [be] issued.”

The cases involve allegations that Wal-Mart unlawfully threatened with reprisal, termination or surveillance, or disciplined employees, if they engaged in strikes and protests.

Wal-Mart on Monday said it disagreed with the NLRB position: “This is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified. The fact is, we provide good jobs and unparalleled opportunities for our associates. In the last five years, there hasn’t been one decision by the NLRB or by a court finding that Wal-Mart violated the National Labor Relations Act. That is because we take our obligations under the act very seriously and we train our managers accordingly.”

The groups on the call vowed to organize more and larger protests on Black Friday. Joseph T. Hansen, international president of UFCW, said, “Last year, Wal-Mart workers walked off the job on Black Friday. This year, we built a bigger and broader coalition of allies.”

“This is a difficult time for working people in our country,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “They’re struggling against an epidemic of low-paying, low-benefit, part-time work. Wal-Mart’s business model is geared toward keeping workers poor. When Wal-Mart workers stand up for their rights, Wal-Mart retaliates against then and attempts to silence them. Black Friday is just the next step in our efforts to stand together. The 13 million members of the AFL-CIO will stand in lockstep with Wal-Mart workers on their path to justice.”

Wal-Mart said it had promoted on Monday 350 associates during a series of town hall meetings in Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix. The retailer said it’s holding the meetings to “listen and learn from employees.”

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