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Video: 60,000 Ask FEC to Investigate Wal-Mart's Electioneering

American Rights at Work hand-delivered a complaint and petition to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), asking the FEC to open an investigation into Wal-Mart’s attempt to influence its employees’ votes in the November election.

Outraged over news reports that Wal-Mart told employees to vote against candidates who support the Employee Free Choice Act, more than 60,000 people signed the petition, which was delivered along with a formal complaint filed by American Rights at Work, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and WakeUpWalmart.com.

Covering our complaint today were the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, NPR, Reuters, and Bloomberg News.

We filed our complaint to show Wal-Mart – and other anti-union companies – that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. As the New York Times reports, Wal-Mart's actions are just a new twist on an old tactic:

Wal-Mart, which has 1.4 million employees nationwide, has a reputation for fighting fiercely against unionization efforts...“For years, Wal-Mart has been intimidating and harassing its workers who want to form unions,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, a union-financed advocacy group. “Now they’ve adapted their union-busting tactics to influence our federal election system.”

The Wall Street Journal obtained a recording of one of the meetings:

According to the recording, the meeting leader, a human-resources manager, began by saying she was going to talk about the company and unions and "a little bit of politics," specifically the Employee Free Choice Act. The leader said that the bill almost passed last year. "If Democrats get the votes they need and elect a Democratic president, they said it will be the first bill presented and that's scary," she said.

During the meeting, the group leader apparently made wildly inaccurate and negative claims about the Employee Free Choice Act and unions in general:

In the hour-and-a-half meeting, held for managers in a Southern state, the leader tells employees that their wages may be reduced to minimum wage for up to three months before a contract is negotiated, that union authorization cards violate workers' right to privacy by including their Social Security numbers on them and that if a small unit within a store votes to unionize, the entire store will be unionized. [...]

Labor lawyers say these are inaccurate interpretations of labor law in general and the Employee Free Choice Act specifically, and that could be a violation of labor law. "The statements are not correct representations of what the law would require even under the current law," said Jeffrey Hirsch, a labor lawyer in Boston. "It would be a violation of the national labor relations act to say those things."

Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, criticized Wal-Mart for trying to influence the federal election system.

"Wal-Mart seems to be willing to break federal election law in order to stop their employees and all of America's workers from having a fair shot at the American dream," she said.