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NLRB says vote legal

DALLAS (AP) -- The United Food and Commercial Workers has won a tentative victory in its fight to preserve the first successful union vote at a Wal-Mart store.

A hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board has recommended dismissal of Wal-Mart's objections to a 7-3 vote in
February by meat cutters at the Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, Texas, 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

Wal-Mart argued that union organizers used illegal tactics and acted improperly by providing "alcohol, cash and sexual
titillation" to induce employees to vote for union representation.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jessica Moser said Tuesday that the company will protest the hearing officer's recommendation to the NLRB,
which must certify the union representation.

"Many people would think if you take someone to a strip bar and buy them drinks and give them money, that might sway someone's vote," she said.

The hearing officer's recommendation was made Friday, but its findings were not released until late Monday.

Two weeks after the Jacksonville vote, Wal-Mart announced that it would eliminate butchers in Jacksonville and 179 other stores in
six states and begin selling prepackaged meat. Wal-Mart said it would offer the butchers other jobs.

Wal-Mart said customers prefer prepackaged meat, but union officials said the timing of the announcement was suspicious.

Union officials said Friday's recommendation means Wal-Mart will have to negotiate with the Jacksonville butchers before moving
forward with plans to eliminate the meat-cutting department.

The company alleges that union organizer Brad Edwards took Jacksonville meat cutter Maurice Miller to an exotic dance club,
where he offered Miller beer and dollar bills for tipping dancers.

But the NLRB hearing officer, Michael Cooperman, said in his recommendation that the action was acceptable because Miller is a
regular customer at the topless club and he and Edwards were "winding down from the pre-election hearing.
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