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Walmart workers fight store closings

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A union-backed group is trying to block Walmart from closing stores it charges are being shut due to worker protests for higher wages.

Walmart unexpectedly closed five stores last week in Texas, California, Florida and Oklahoma, for what it said were severe plumbing problems. That put 2,200 people out of work.

But the United Food and Commercial Workers union filed an injunction with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Walmart Monday seeking to stop workers from losing their jobs. It wants the NLRB to force Walmart to rehire all of the terminated workers.

Walmart said the workers at the affected stores were given two months pay, which is required under federal law regarding layoff notices. But the workers could be out of a job by mid-June unless they find a position at a different Walmart store. The stores are expected to be closed about six months for repairs.

But OUR Walmart says the company’s claim of plumbing problem is just an excuse to punish workers for protesting for higher pay. Workers at the store closed in Pico Rivera, California, led one of the first Black Friday protests back in 2012.

“This is a new low, even for Walmart,” said Venanzi Luna, an eight-year Walmart worker at that store and a OUR Walmart member. “We know that Walmart is scared of all we have accomplished as members of OUR Walmart so they’re targeting us. It’s unfortunate that Walmart has chosen to hurt the lives of so many people, just to try to conceal their real motives of silencing workers just like they’ve always done.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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