Thursday, April 14, 2005

UFCW Files Complaint Against Wal-Mart

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has filed a complaint against Wal-Mart asking the NLRB to investigate allegations that former executive Thomas Coughlin submitted false invoices to finance an anti-union campaign that included secret payments to union officials for information.  Coughlin was removed from the Wal-Mart Board of Directors in late March, having retired from his executive position in January, because of what Wal-Mart described as a number of false invoices submitted to reimburse personal expenses, totaling in a range of $100,000-500,000 (see earlier post here).  Last week, a Wall Street Journal story described Coughlin's involvement in a "Union Program" and his assertion that the invoices were to reimburse him for expenditures in fighting union organizing efforts (earlier post here).  The UFCW's letter (see press release here) to the NLRB states "the charge complains that Wal-Mart, acting through officers, employees and agents, including those at the highest levels of management, systematically denied workers their democratic right to exercise a choice for union representation.  Wal-Mart's actions seemingly involved the criminal misappropriation of company funds to create an illegal anti-union slush fund." Wal-Mart has already supplied information from its internal investigation of Coughlin to the U.S. Attorney's Office, and given the tenor of the UFCW-Wal-Mart relationship, the question of secret payments will not go away soon. (ph)

Fraud, Investigations | Permalink

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