business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has ruled that a lower court can issue a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Wal-Mart employees suing because the company excludes unionized employees from receiving profit sharing, 401K and health care benefits.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the lower court avoided ruling because it said that jurisdiction belonged to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has ruled that the exclusion clause is illegal and ordered the company to drop it, but Wal-Mart reportedly has not done so and is negotiating with the NLRB.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Labor Department has not renewed an agreement it made with Wal-Mart a year ago in which it guaranteed that it would give the retailer 15 days notice before launching any investigation into possible labor violations by the company.

The deal was negotiated as part of a series of penalties connected to a case in which Wal-Mart was accused of child labor law violations. Wal-Mart also paid a fine of $135,540. It was, however, criticized by both members of Congress and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General as being overly kind to Wal-Mart.

Both the Labor Department and Wal-Mart denied that the deal had not been renewed because of the controversy, but emphasized that the deal only had a one-year term.
KC's View:
Speaking as taxpayers, we’re glad this deal has gone away, no matter what the reason. It was absurd.