Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has filed trespassing claims against a grocery workers union and several other groups that have protested on the grounds of its stores in Florida.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, its subsidiary OUR Walmart and several other defendants broke state law by trespassing and picketing at several Wal-Mart stores during the past eight months, according to the lawsuit. Wal-Mart employees in the U.S. are not unionized, but the store has still attracted the ire of labor groups lobbying for higher pay, better benefits and steady hours.
Representatives for the discount retailer say that the company filed the lawsuit after multiple warnings, and that it is intended to protect customers and other employees from “further disruptive tactics associated with [the] continued, illegal trespassing.”
These tactics allegedly include passing out reading materials to customers inside one Orlando Wal-Mart and later handing “a rotten pumpkin painted in support of OUR Walmart” to the store manager of the same location.
The defendants in the suit, however, accuse Wal-Mart of trying to silence its workers. "Rather than creating good jobs with steady hours and affordable healthcare, Walmart's pattern is to focus its energies on infringing on our freedom of speech," OUR Walmart said in a statement to Reuters.
Wal-Mart is seeking a court order preventing the defendants from demonstrating at its stores or confronting employees or customers.
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