Menard Inc. Accused of Violating Labor Laws 04 Apr 16

Menard Inc. is violating federal labor law in the way it treats its employees, the staff of the National Labor Relations Board has found.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that according to the regional office of the NLRB, The Eau Claire-based home-improvement retailer has been improperly requiring employees to sign mandatory-arbitration agreements, and has withheld merit pay raises for workers engaged in protected activities.

Seth Goldstein, a union official who filed a complaint with the NLRB about Menard’s practices says “This is very important, it will affect over 46,000 employees.”

Goldstein is senior business representative with a New York-based local of the Office & Professional Employees International Union.

He filed his complaint after The Progressive magazine reported in December that Menard’s agreements with managers called for their income to automatically be cut by 60% if a union won an election at their operation. The magazine reported that a Menard’s management employee had provided it with a copy of one such agreement from 2015.

A week later, a Menard spokesman told Bloomberg News that 2016 contracts with managers do not contain such language. The spokesman didn’t respond when asked if the company had previously maintained the anti-union practice.

In a summary of the initial decision, sent to Goldstein this week by the NLRB office in Milwaukee, an agency field examiner said Menard has rescinded the policy.

The summery said other, existing practices at Menard, however, must be changed.

Among them is the company’s policy of requiring non-managerial workers, as a condition of employment, to sign agreements that require them to use arbitration and bar them from engaging in joint activities such as class actions.

Menard also must rescind language that prohibits merit raises for employees based on behavior that could involve protected union activity, the summary from the NLRB regional office said.

Those decisions aren’t final. If Menard doesn’t agree to make the changes, the NLRB likely would issue a formal complaint that the company could contest, Goldstein said.

The officer in charge of the NLRB’s office in Milwaukee said Friday that the agency cannot discuss the case at this point.

A Menard spokeswoman said the company would not comment on the matter because it is still pending.

Menard, which operates 287 stores in 14 states, employs more than 45,000 people, according to its website.