By Doug Cunningham
At least 45,000 workers have won class-action lawsuit rights in a National Labor Relations Board case against Menard’s.
The midwest-based home improvement supply store chain owned by Wisconsin anti-union billionaire John Menard is settling the case with the NLRB rather than trying to fight the charges that his company is violating labor law.
OPEIU Local 153 attorney Seth Goldstein filed the charges along with attorney Marissa McDermott.
[Seth Goldstein]: “John Menard, arch-critic of Obama, has now endorsed the position of the National Labor Relations Act. I think that the employers are going to fear the Menard's settlement because now a major company has acknowledged that class action waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act."
Goldstein and attorney Marissa McDermott brought the labor law violations case against Menard's.?
[Seth Goldstein]: "I don't know of any company that's agreed to withdraw waivers on class actions from their mandatory arbitration agreements in a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board. "
Menard’s had illegally imposed arbitration agreements on workers as a condition of employment. The agreements forced workers to give up class-action lawsuits and complaints to the NLRB in return for an arbitration system imposed by the company.
[Seth Goldstein]: "I don't know of any company that's agreed to withdraw waivers on class actions from their mandatory arbitration agreements in a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board."
This settlement means Menard's will no longer use these mandatory arbitration agreements to prevent workers from filing class actions. And must inform its workers that the agreements violate labor law.
[Seth Goldstein]: "We were able to achieve something that I don't believe has been achieved against any other company thus far. Menard's was compelled to enter into a agreement with the National Labor Relations Board and will withdraw class action waivers from all 45,000 or more mandatory personal arbitration agreements."
Forcing Menard’s to abandon the arbitration requirement is a major victory for workers that goes well beyond just Menard’s. Goldstein says 43 percent of employers use these imposed arbitration agreements as conditions of employment. Co-counsel Marissa McDermott says the imposed arbitrations was the major illegality in this case.
[MarissaMcDermott]: "That is really what we see as being the major illegality here is that we don't know how many people have signed these agreements ...so they never bothered to call a lawyer. They never bothered to file a claim. They never bothered to pursue their rights because they didn't think they had any."