The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union said it planned to seek an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board on Monday to get retailer Wal-Mart to rehire 2,200 employees at five recently closed stores, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The UFCW claims that Wal-Mart Stores closed its Pico Rivera, CA location in retaliation for protests by workers there in recent years seeking higher pay and benefits, states the Post-Dispatch. Other closed locations are in Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma.
Walmart’s spokesperson, Delia Garcia, claimed “these are not layoffs” just before clarifying that “everyone will have to reapply as if new employees” once the stores reopen, states Jobs With Justice.
Wal-Mart has argued it closed the stores because of “major plumbing issues.” They had said the stores would remain closed to up to six months, according to the Associated Press.
However, Jobs With Justice states that according to city officials in the city of Pico Rivera, Walmart has not applied for permits to engage in plumbing work.
The group OUR Walmart filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, and argues the closings were a “retaliatory” measure against employees.
The store in Pico Rivera, California, was reportedly a hotbed for worker protesting.
The group wants the board to seek a court injunction, which can be quicker than typical NLRB proceedings.
In other related news, Wal-Mart is increasing the pressure on suppliers to cut the cost of their products in an effort to regain the image of low-price leader and turn around its sluggish U.S. sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Wal-Mart says it has been telling suppliers to forgo investments in joint marketing with the retailer and to put the savings into lower prices instead. Makers of branded consumer products from diapers to yogurt typically set aside a part of their budgets for marketing with Wal-Mart, spending on things like product displays and online advertisements.
Wal-Mart has long had a reputation for pressing its suppliers to cut costs to help lower prices, but the retailer’s new leadership has embraced the concept with “fresh vigor,” states the Wall Street Journal.
With the growth of dollar stores and other discounters, Wal-Mart is facing more competition on price, which for many customers is the most important point.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new order to lower prices “is creating tension with companies that supply the hundreds of thousands of products on Wal-Mart’s shelves.”