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Friday, November 23, 2012

Walmart Workers Go On Strike During Black Friday Shopping Rush

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Bay Area union members have joined Walmart employees in staging strikes against the retail giant during the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.

Upset at what they deem retaliation for past strike movements, Bay Area workers have joined others across the nation in taking to the picket lines to vent their frustration.

The scattered protests across the country yesterday and today, organized by OUR Walmart, seem to have had little effect on the store's bottom line, however, as shoppers continue to fill aisles.

Most of the protestors appear to be union members who are not employed by Walmart. Employees say this is because store associates who have spoken out against their employer have been fired.

"It was proven last night -- and again today -- that the OUR Walmart group doesn't speak for the 1.3 million Walmart associates," says David Tovar, Walmart's vice president of corporate communications. "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."

The protestors claim that Walmart managers have responded to their complaints by cutting employee hours and terminating labor leaders, such as 28-year-old Sememtra Lee, who worked for the Richmond location for three months before her termination this month.

"We want respect and better working conditions," says Lee. "When we speak on it this is what they do to us."

Workers are also unhappy with the company's efforts to expand Black Friday shopping hours, saying that they won't be able to enjoy the holidays with their families.

Retailers nationwide have expanded their hours this holiday season in an effort to lure shoppers into stores despite a down economy and continuing high unemployment.

Adding to their list of grievances, Walmart employees say they are also concerned for their safety, as some stores have been the scenes of violence,  especially during Black Friday.

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