Wal-Mart employees protested across the nation as consumers flocked to stores in search of finding the best deals. Employees at the retailer called for more hours and higher wages.
The protests were organized by OUR Wal-Mart, a union-backed group of Walmart employees. OUR Wal-Mart which has been protesting on Black Friday for the past couple of years. The group is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
The group is pushing for America’s largest retailer to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The New York Times reported that over 300 employees were seen protesting at a Wal-Mart location near Union Station in Washington, with thousands of other workers protesting across the US.
Protests were held in a number of locations, including D.C., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and St. Paul, Long Beach, and Northern New Jersey.
The protests were peaceful for the most part, however, in Chicago 11 employees were arrested for blocking traffic outside a Walmart on West Monroe Street.
Despite Wal-Mart’s minimum wage being slightly higher than the Federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, many employees stress that with their current pay they are struggling to make ends meet, especially with the number of hours that they’re given.
Ronee Hinton, a cashier at Wal-Mart, told reporters that it’s very hard on what she earns (of around $220 a week). She said that wages should be higher and that the company should provide more workers with full-time jobs and less erratic schedules.
“Right now I’m on food stamps and am applying for medical assistance. It would help a lot to get full time.”
SNAP Food Stamps form part of an American federal assistance program for low-income people and their families.
In a statement, Wal-Mart said:
“Fewer associates called out absent over the past day than we see on a typical day. That tells us our associates are excited to be there for our customers at this special time, and they are not joining in made-for-TV demonstrations in any meaningful way.”
“The crowds are mostly made up of paid union demonstrators and they are not representative of our 1.3 million associates across the country.”
According to Wal-Mart, it pays its employees competitive wages, with its full time and part time workers making, on average, around $12 an hour. There are around 1.4 Million Americans currently working at Walmart.