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BENTONVILLE, Ark. - In a new report, human rights group Human Rights Watch accuses Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here of using a myriad of tactics, including some that are illegal, to hinder the ability of its workers to form labor unions. Wal-Mart has denied the allegations.
Human Rights watch claimed Wal-Mart has restricted the dissemination and discussion of pro-union views, threatened to withhold benefits from workers who organize, interrogated workers about their union sympathies, and sent managers to eavesdrop on employee conversations. It also alleged Wal-Mart has refused to bargain collectively, fired employees it knew to be pro-union, and focused security cameras on areas where union organizing is heaviest.
"Wal-Mart workers have virtually no chance to organize, because they're up against unfair U.S. labor laws and a giant company that will do just about anything to keep unions out," said Carol Pier, a researcher who prepared the report for Human Rights Watch.
Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said the Human Rights Watch report is based on "unsubstantiated allegations." Tovar said the retailer respects its workers' rights to a free and fair unionization vote, according to published reports.
Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said it interviewed 41 current and former Wal-Mart workers and managers, met with labor lawyers and union organizers, and analyzed lawsuits that accuse Wal-Mart of violating U.S. labor laws.
"Wal-Mart is a posterchild for what is wrong with U.S. labor laws," said Pier. "Many tactics comport with U.S. law but taken together they create a climate of fear and intimidation."
The report also pointed out that U.S. labor laws fall short of international standards.