CLEVELAND — Some protestors are planning to make Black Friday “blue” for the retail giant Walmart. Workers across the country say, on the biggest shopping day of the year, they want to send a message about working conditions.
Demonstrators in California participated in a loud protest inside a Walmart Wednesday, a preview to planned Black Friday protests at stores across the country.
“I plan to walk out Black Friday, too,” said employee Raymond Bravo.
Bravo is a night custodian at the store in Oakland. He says he lives paycheck to paycheck, earning $9.85 an hour.
“We deserve more and I believe Walmart should pay us more,” he said.
A group called “OUR Walmart” is helping to organize the demonstrations, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. They say the protests are designed to pressure Walmart into paying workers more and giving them better benefits.
“They got a free to do whatever they feel like saying and I got a free right to go wherever I wanna shop,” said Cleveland resident Keith Williams.
Shoppers at the Walmart store at Steelyard Commons here in Cleveland reacted to the planned protests. Organizers tell Fox 8 that three are planned for Northeast Ohio, at Steelyard Commons, the Walmart in North Olmsted and the store at Severance Center in Cleveland Heights.
“It don’t affect me. It’s so hard to get a job, they better stay where they is,” said another Cleveland shopper.
In an email to Fox 8, a Walmart spokeswoman said, in part, “Our pay and benefits plans are as good or better than our retail competitors, including those that are unionized. We want everyone to have a positive and rewarding experience working at Walmart. But, we recognize that not everyone is going to find what they are looking for in their job.”
Walmart’s statement goes on to say that the so-called protests are only by a handful of employees at a handful of stores and they say most of the people involved are union organizers who actually don’t work for the company.