Arkansas Judge Bars Union from Wal-Mart due to Trespass Violations

An Ark. state court judge issued a nationwide injunction Jan. 29 barring the United Food & Commercial Workers from passing out literature or soliciting for the union inside Wal-Mart stores. Judge James Spears of the Chancery Court in Ft. Smith, Ark., determined that UFCW organizers violated state trespassing law when in late Sept. 2001 they participated in a week-long “blitz,” entering a number of Sam’s Club stores to distribute union literature.   Following a Dec. hearing, Spears issued the order enjoining UFCW from soliciting activity inside any Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club stores. Spears said the order was “nationwide in scope.”

However, “outside of Arkansas the injunction shall be enforced through the courts of the various states in that a court may consider any law of trespass or affirmative defense peculiar to that state familiar with it. [Wal-Mart] shall register this order in any state in which it desires and proceed from there,” Spears said.  This is the second time the judge has acted on Wal-Mart’s request for an injunction against UFCW organizing activity on Wal-Mart property.  UFCW spokesman Al Zack said the union will appeal Spear’s order in state court.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jessica Moser said it is clear from the judge’s order that he wants any future complaints of UFCW organizers trespassing on company property to be filed with the local court and not brought back to Arkansas. The company is still trying to determine how best to anticipate future union violations in states outside of Ark., she said.   “We’re not going to tolerate them being in our stores and harassing our associates,” she said. “We hope they’ll abide by the judge’s ruling.” [BNA 2/5/02]