Wal-Mart Loses Meat Cutters Bargaining Appeal

One of the actions that cemented Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s anti-union reputation in the public's mind was its decision in February 2000 to convert many of its stores' meat departments so their employees would simply sell prepackaged meats, rather than cutting it themselves. This was significant because 10 meat department employees at Wal-Mart's Jacksonville, Texas, store had elected United Food and Commercial Workers Local 540 as their bargaining representative earlier that month. Wal-Mart won because the National Labor Relations Board agreed that, because of the conversion, the meat department had become an inappropriate bargaining unit, meaning Wal-Mart had no general duty to bargain with the UFCW. But the NLRB said Wal-Mart nevertheless must bargain with the union over the effects of the conversion on those meat department employees, and on Friday, a federal appeals court upheld both of the board's decisions.

Both the union and Wal-Mart sought relief from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, with UFCW claiming the meat department unit is still appropriate and Wal-Mart claiming it has no duty to bargain over the effects of its change.

The NRLB has historically treated meat department units as presumptively appropriate, but meat departments in general use more prepackaged meats and require little or no meat cutting skills of their workers, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. Relying now on its ordinary community-of-interest test in which cutting skill is central to the appropriateness determination, the board decided the Jacksonville unit did not meet the test because the workers do no specialized cutting. The board's precedent establishes that when a plant closes, the employer has a duty to bargain over the effects of the closing, and the board here found that the Jacksonville department's conversation was analogous to a closing because it eliminated the bargaining unit. The judges agreed the board reasonably applied its precedents in finding Wal-Mart committed an unfair labor practice by failing to engage in effects bargaining with UFCW, so they denied Wal-Mart's petition for review.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark CP

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2020

    October 2020

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SECURITY
      EHS Compliance: Make it Personal
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Choosing the Right Safety Shoe for Your Industry
    • HAND PROTECTION
      A Requirements Checklists for Work Safety Gloves
    • COVID-19 MANAGEMENT
      Contemporary Issues in HSE Management
    View This Issue