Protests hit U.S. Wal-Mart stores on big shopping day
Demonstrations at dozens of Walmart stores across the United States were reported on Black Friday, typically the nation's biggest shopping day.
Media reports estimated that around 100 cities in 46 states participated in protests to demands for better pay, improved work hours and employee benefits. At a Walmart store in Paramount, California, for example, the Los Angeles Times estimated a turn out of around 400 store employees, union members and demonstration supporters.
Organizers from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the group behind OUR Wal-Mart, said the protests have resulted from agitated workers who feel silenced by the corporation.
"Walmart workers in Miami, Dallas, Wisconsin and the Bay Area kicked off this year’s Black Friday shopping season by walking off the job on Thursday, and this morning, workers from Chicago and Washington, DC have joined them," the group said Friday.
"Throughout the day, Walmart workers in more than 100 cities are expected to go on strike as part of the continued wave of 1,000 protests in 46 states leading up to and on Black Friday, including strikes, rallies, flash mobs, direct action and other efforts to inform customers about the illegal actions that Walmart has been taking against its workers."
David Tovar, Walmart's vice president of corporate communications, said in an official media statement that participation had been exaggerated and that most protesters were not company employees.
"The number of protests being reported by the UFCW are grossly exaggerated. It was proven last night – and again today – that the OUR Walmart group doesn’t speak for the 1.3 million Walmart associates. We had our best Black Friday ever and OUR Walmart was unable to recruit more than a small number of associates to participate in these made for TV events," Tovar said.