A National Labor Relations Board ruling by an administrative judge found that Wal-Mart retaliated against workers for participating in strikes.

Most of the allegations in Wal-Mart Stores and Our Wal-Mart relate to a series of strikes in May and June of 2013. The judge found that the strikes were protected by the NLR Act and that Wal-Mart violated the act by unlawfully firing workers.

The ruling states that Wal-Mart must reinstate 16 fired employees to their former jobs and give them back pay.

The ruling also requires Wal-Mart to hold meetings in 29 stores appraising workers of their right to strike and vow not to threaten or discipline employees for striking.

Making Change at Wal-Mart said, “Today’s ruling proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Wal-Mart unlawfully fired, threatened and disciplined hard working employees simply for speaking out.”

Wal-Mart has consistently come under fire from unions and labor rights activists for its working practices. The judge’s ruling came a day after the world’s largest retailer revealed plans to increase the pay of almost all its U.S. hourly store employees, and not only those making the minimum wage. The pay increase would be at least 2 percent, the retailer said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the Wal-Mart Foundation and U.S. Conference of Mayors today revealed the grant recipients of this year’s U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund at the mayors’ 84th winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

Wal-Mart Stores and the Wal-Mart Foundation in 2014 created the fund, which will award $10 million in grants over five years, as part of its push to revive American manufacturing, with apparel and textiles as the centerpiece.

The retail giant made a commitment in 2013 to buy an additional $250 billion in American products by 2023.

Five leading research and academic institutions were awarded a total of $2.84 million in grants for their cutting-edge work in textile manufacturing in today’s second round of funding.

The grant recipients were chosen for their ability to address two challenges: reducing the cost of textile manufacturing including home textiles and apparel by addressing obstacles throughout production, and improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products.

“Through these grants we hope to help remove the barriers to revitalizing and growing U.S. apparel manufacturing, while creating more sustainable production processes,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Wal-Mart.

The 2016 Wal-Mart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners include Clemson University for energy and effluent reduction through innovative dyeing of polyester fabrics; Oregon State University for environmentally conscious dyeing of fabrics using continuous digital printing and drying of biopigment inks; the University of Texas at Austin for on-loom fabric defect inspection using contact image sensors; North Carolina State University for developing a nonstop tying-in process to improve weaving efficiency, and Cornell University for recycling post-consumer textile waste and a raw material substitute for new textiles.

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