The 2,200 Walmart workers who were abruptly laid off because of what the company claims were plumbing problems at the stores where they worked are taking steps to ensure they get their jobs back. A union representing the workers will today file a claim with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an injunction requiring Walmart to rehire everyone, the New York Times reports. As it stands now, Walmart says the workers—who were given just hours of notice that the stores would be closed for six months—may be able to find work at another store; the injunction would require the company to find them work at another store or reopen the stores where they used to work. The claim also accuses Walmart of an ulterior motive for closing the stores.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—acting on behalf of Our Walmart, a non-union group that has been airing claims of poor working conditions—says Walmart is retaliating because one of the closed stores, in Pico Rivera, Calif., has been a hub for labor activism and hosted the first strike by Walmart workers for better pay and conditions. Walmart denies any such retaliation, and in response to the injunction, a rep says, "We don't believe there is a basis for an injunction that would interfere with our efforts to repair the serious plumbing issues at the five stores." Over the weekend, the company gave a few more details, with a rep telling UPI, "The issues mostly relate to clogs and water leaks in the plumbing—we have had persistent issues over the last several years."