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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a ruling that had prevented a union from recruiting members inside Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores nationwide, The Associated Press reports.
In a 6-1 decision, the high court threw out an injunction issued by an Arkansas state judge, saying Wal-Mart failed to show that the union organizing caused irreparable harm.
Two of the justices also criticized the judge for reaching beyond the state and imposing a coast-to-coast ban.
"It's a clear victory for common sense and the rule of law," said Al Zack, a Food and Commercial Workers union organizer who coordinated a recruiting effort at hundreds of Wal-Mart stores across the country.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sarah Clark said the Bentonville-based company remains "committed to protecting our stores, associates and customers from aggressive and unsolicited actions."
Wal-Mart, which has waged battles against unions across the country, sued after organizers went to about 300 Supercenters around the nation in 1999. The company said the union representatives were trespassing and harassing workers.
In its appeal, the union, which claims 1.4 million members in North America, said the injunction stifled free speech and suppressed workers' rights to organize.
Wal-Mart officials noted that in Thursday's ruling, the court did not declare that the union had a legal right to solicit inside its more than 3,400 U.S. stores. The case was sent back to a lower court for further consideration.
Wal-Mart has said union organizers could solicit in store parking lots, though the company requested advance notice.