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TEAMSTERS: KMART DOCUMENTS ON SPYING ACTIVITIES ARE DOCTORED; WORKERS ASK COURT FOR CONTEMPT RULING AGAINST RETAIL GIANT

 /ADVANCE/ WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters issued the following:
 In what smacks of a possible cover-up attempt, retail giant Kmart (NYSE: KM) has given an Illinois court documents that have been altered or falsified. The documents, a series of weekly reports by an investigative firm that spied on workers on and off the job, include at least six reports that have been changed prior to their submission to the court.
 A hearing is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 7, 11 a.m., in Chicago. The workers are asking the court to find the company in contempt for failing to produce complete and unedited documents.
 Kmart's spying activity came to the workers' attention when copies of reports and invoices were given anonymously to their union, the Teamsters. When the workers sued the company for violating Illinois privacy law, the court ordered the retailer to turn over all documents pertaining to the spying.
 "Kmart has shown absolute disrespect for these workers -- first in spying on their private lives, and now trying to cover it up," said Teamster President Ron Carey. "The court should not allow them to get away with this deception."
 The documents produced by Kmart have been doctored in several ways, according to the motion filed by attorneys for the workers:
 -- Some reports are virtually word-for-word duplicates of others
 submitted, with only the dates of the reports differing.
 -- Some have been edited to eliminate all references to
 conversations about the union.
 -- Some contain gaps and inconsistencies that led to the belief
 that the documents were altered. And Kmart failed to produce
 reports for a number of weeks.
 The details of the spy network were revealed on Sept. 14, 1993, when 43 of the victims of Kmart's spying at the company's Manteno, Ill., warehouse took their case against the corporation and its private investigating firm to court in Chicago.
 The complaint, which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., characterizes Kmart's surveillance of its employees as "outrageously intrusive, extending far beyond workplace concerns and legitimate management concerns."
 The workers first learned that the company had placed spies among them several months before they filed suit, when they received an anonymous package containing invoices and a report prepared for Kmart management by Confidential Investigative Consultants, Inc. The report included transcriptions of conversations between two spies and the employees, who accepted them as coworkers and friends.
 The spies at Kmart infiltrated the workplace and ingratiated themselves to such an extent that they gained access to the workers off the job and in their homes.
 The suit alleges that the company has violated the workers' right to privacy under Illinois law, has resulted in the infliction of anguish and severe emotional distress upon them, has jeopardized their job security, promotion opportunities and job benefits at Kmart and their employment opportunities elsewhere.
 The employees voted to become members of the Teamsters Union in July 1993, and are represented by legal counsel from the Chicago firm of Johnson Jones and Snelling, who have been retained by the union.
 -0- 1/7/94/0001
 /CONTACT: Gaye Williams or Matt Witt of the Teamsters, 202-624-6911/
 (KM)


CO: International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Kmart; Confidential
 Investigative Consultants, Inc. ST: District of Columbia, Illinois IN: REA SU:


DT-IH -- DC023 -- 9873 01/06/94 15:58 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 6, 1994
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