SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was a bumpy Black Friday for Walmart.
Across the country, some Walmart workers walked off the job on the busiest shopping day of the year, demanding better pay, healthcare and work conditions.
Union workers and members of the Occupy Wall Street movement held a demonstration outside the Walmart Superstore in Secaucus in support of striking workers.
WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports
Many chanted and sang, sending a clear message to Walmart.
“Treat your workers right, pay them fair wages,” demonstrator Lisa Vinder said.
“They have to stop exploiting the low-wage worker and people should be hired full-time, not just part-time so they can save money,” said Marni Halasa of Manhattan.
Walmart disputes that, saying its pay and benefits are as good if not better than other chains that are unionized.
Walmart employees are not part of a union. The chain recently filed an unfair labor practice charge against a group trying to get workers to protest.
A Walmart spokesperson said the company respects the rights of workers demonstrating, but added if they’re on the schedule they expect them to show up and do their job. The company released a statement late Friday that said in part:
“The number of protests being reported by the UFCW are grossly exaggerated. We are aware of a few dozen protests at our stores today. The number of associates that have missed their scheduled shift today is more than 60 percent less than Black Friday last year.”
The majority of customers continued shopping on what was the most important day for the giant retailer, but some said they did have reservations.
“I don’t think it would stop anybody from shopping anywhere, especially on a day like today when everybody’s out and about,” said Mike Anderson of Nutley.
“I came to get an iPad … an iPad Mini, but after seeing this I don’t think I am going to go ahead and go in the store,” Kevin Paglione of Bergenfield, N.J., told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
In fact, a Walmart spokesperson said the chain had its best ever Black Friday, selling more than 1 million television sets, adding that less than 50 of its workers took part in the walkouts nationwide. The spokesperson also said that most of the protesters were actually supporters of Walmart employees.
“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. Press reports are now exposing what we have said all along – the large majority of protesters aren’t even Walmart workers,” the company’s statement said.
The protesters told CBS 2’s Sloan said they showed up to show the employees they have support.
“It takes a lot of courage for workers to stand up to management and to speak their minds,” said Stephanie Yazgi of the Walmart-free NYC Coalition.
Walmart said none of its workers at the Secaucus store walked out on Friday, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
Some customers said they sympathized with the workers, CBS 2’s Sloan reported.
“I support them 100 percent,” one shopper said. “These people work holidays away from their family.”
“I think it’s unfortunate that people have to work on Black Friday and Thanksgiving, I think it’s not fair,” another shopper said.
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