NLRB: Menard Inc. violates labor law

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 20:53:49-04

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Wisconsin-based home improvement chain Menard Inc. is violating federal labor law in how the company treats its employees, staff at the National Labor Relations Board concluded.

The agency's regional office found that Menards has been improperly requiring employees to sign mandatory-arbitration agreements. NLRB staff also found that the Eau Claire-based retailer has withheld merit pay raises for workers engaged in protected activities, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ( ) reported.

Seth Goldstein, an official with a New York-based local of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, filed the complaint about Menards' practices.

"This is very important," Goldstein said. "It will affect over 46,000 employees." Menards operates 287 stores in 14 states and employs more than 45,000 people, according to its website.

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

The NLRB's initial decision was sent to Goldstein last week by the agency's office in Milwaukee. In the summary, an agency field examiner said Menards has rescinded that policy. But the summary said other, existing practices at Menards must be changed.

One 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 prohibit them from engaging in joint activities such as class actions. Menards also must rescind language that bars merit raises for employees based on behavior that could involve protected union activity, the summary said.

The decisions are not final. If Menards 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 because the matter is still pending.