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AFL-CIO Files Complaint with FEC on Wal-Mart Electioneering

08.16.08

AFL-CIO Files Complaint with FEC on Wal-Mart Electioneering

by James Parks, Aug 14, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/14/afl-cio-files-complaint-with-fec-on-wal-mart-electioneering

The AFL-CIO joined other workers’ rights groups today to file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) demanding an investigation into Wal-Mart’s intimidation of workers.

The complaint stems from a Wall Street Journal article reporting that Wal-Mart is requiring employees to attend meetings http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/12/take-action-to-stop-wal-mart-from-telling-workers-how-to-vote where they are told that if Democrats like Sen. Barack Obama http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/obama.cfm?source=meetbarackobama are elected, the Democrats will pass the Employee Free Choice Act http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/ . Obama is a co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, while his Republican opponent for president, John McCain http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/mccain.cfm?source=mccainrevealed , opposes the bill.

According to the complaint:

There is reason to believe that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has made prohibited corporate expenditures by expressly advocating against Senator Obama’s election to employees who were not in its restricted class…We request that the Commission immediately open an investigation to determine whether a violation occurred and, if so, to take all appropriate steps to remedy that violation of federal election law.

Wal-Mart is one of the leaders in a well-financed corporate campaign to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, which levels the playing field and allows workers to make a free choice of whether to join a union without employer interference. You can tell Wal-Mart to stop intimidating workers. Send a message here http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/wal_mart_petition_clone_7 .

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, noting that “Wal-Mart has bullied its workers and managers for years,” says:

Now it wants to bully the political process, and the FEC should take Wal-Mart’s threats very seriously. Wal-Mart has shown exactly why our nation needs the Employee Free Choice Act. We must outlaw the kind of behavior for which Wal-Mart is famous and give workers a free and fair choice on whether to form a union.

The complaint also points out that the Employee Free Choice Act would go a long way toward rectifying the imbalance that currently exists between workers seeking to form unions and employers that oppose them. Currently, the law fails to effectively protect workers seeking to organize, and employers are able to violate the law with virtual impunity.

Wal-Mart’s actions coincide with a broader effort by corporate groups to stop the Employee Free Choice Act. In state after state, deep-pocket front groups, such as the so-called Center for Union Facts and the Employee Freedom Action Committee, are running ads that assail congressional candidates for their support of the bill.

Wal-Mart is the largest member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, one of the main funders of the $30 million anti-union campaign called “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/the-anti-union-network/chamber-of-commerce/coalition-for-a-democratic-workplace-exposed-20080424-557-273.html .”

The corporate front group came under fire Tuesday from the Brunswick (Maine) Times Record (link) . In an editorial, the paper attacked a new ad by the group as “slick but sleazy.”

They insult (Democratic Senate candidate Tom) Allen, union members, the history of the U.S. labor movement—and the intelligence of all Mainers.

The despicable ads focus on the internal issue of union balloting to distract voters from the coalition’s broader agenda, which continues to hinge on muting workers’ voices during the process of lawmaking. They should require a disclaimer that reads: “Brought to you by the people who fought family leave, collective bargaining, a livable wage, the 40-hour work week and occupational safety laws.”

The workers’ advocacy organization, American Rights at Work http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/ , has lots of information on Wal-Mart’s actions attacking the Employee Free Choice Act here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/employee-free-choice-act/latest-updates/wal-mart-mobilizing-against-the-employee-free-choice-act-20080801-605-83-83.html and a detailed report here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/wal-mart/wal-mart/wal-mart-rolling-back-workers-wages-rights-and-the-american-dream.html on how Wal-Mart rolls back workers’ wages in an assault on the American Dream. The worker advocacy group also tracks the front groups behind the Employee Free Choice Act smear campaign with info here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/the-anti-union-network/chamber-of-commerce/coalition-for-a-democratic-workplace-exposed-20080424-557-273.html .

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