Protests greet shoppers at Walmarts nationwide

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Wal-Mart workers and supporters marched in protest at a number of stores nationwide Thursday and Friday, blasting the wages, benefits and treatment of employees of the world’s largest retailer.

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Demonstrators protest at a Walmart in Boynton Beach, Fla. The company said few of its employees took part, though organizers estimated there would be 1,000 protests.  J. PAT CARTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
J. PAT CARTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Demonstrators protest at a Walmart in Boynton Beach, Fla. The company said few of its employees took part, though organizers estimated there would be 1,000 protests.

The efforts appeared to do little to keep shoppers away though – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it was its best Black Friday ever.

In Paramount, Calif., authorities arrested a small group of protesters Friday outside a Walmart. Elizabeth Brennan of Warehouse Wor­kers United said nine people, including three employees, were arrested shortly after noon for blocking the street. At one point, more than 1,000 people blocked traffic outside the store, sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker told KNBC-TV.

In Lakewood, Colo., shoppers hesitated as they passed dozens of protesters outside a Walmart but entered without incident. Some protesters held signs playing off the retailing giant’s corporate slogan “Live better,” accusing the company of corporate greed and underpaying its workers.

“This is the way you get a fair shake. You’ve got to fight for it. You’ve always had to,” said protester Charlie May, of the Industrial Workers of the World.

A union-backed group called Our Walmart had said it would be holding an estimated 1,000 protests in 46 states. The exact number that took place is unclear. Wal-Mart said the figure is grossly exaggerated and that the protests involved few of its employees.

Our Walmart, made up of current and former employees, was formed in 2010 to press the company for better working conditions.

Wal-Mart for years has faced intense scrutiny over its wage and benefit policies and treatment of its workers. The retailer maintains that it has many long-term employees and that its turnover rate is below the industry average.


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