Wal-Mart Sues Union in Florida Over Demonstrations

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, filed trespassing claims in a lawsuit against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and other groups holding demonstrations at its stores in Florida.

The company, in a complaint filed March 22 in Orange County, Florida, seeks a court order restraining the group and several individuals from trespassing on Wal-Mart property to picket, demonstrate, disrupt customers or confront managers. Wal-Mart employees aren’t unionized.

The lawsuit is aimed at the UFCW, its subsidiary OURWalmart and another group that allegedly trespassed 73 times in 13 states in the past year, Steven Wheeless, a Wal-Mart attorney, said in a letter to the union’s general counsel filed with the lawsuit.

“Wal-Mart files this action after repeatedly warning the union that it would act to protect its property interests and its associates’ work environment if the union did not stop its illegal conduct,” Wheeless said.

OURWalmart said store managers have reacted in an extreme manner and harassed one Florida employee when she walked off the job and peacefully protested with her family outside a store.

“This lawsuit looks to be another meritless attempt by Wal-Mart to silence workers and the community rather than hear our concerns,” the union said today in an e-mail. “Rather than creating good jobs with steady hours and affordable health care, Wal-Mart’s pattern is to focus its energies on infringing on our freedom of speech.”

The case is Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Circuit Court, Orange County, Florida.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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