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Unions Hold Black Friday Protests

Union protests were seen at Wal-Mart locations across the country Friday.

“Tens of thousands of Americans are protesting at 1,600 Walmart stores across the country today, calling on the company to pay associates a minimum of $15 an hour and provide full-time work,” a press release from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) declared.

The press release went on to say, “The broad group says the country’s largest employer and the Waltons—Walmart’s majority owners—are abusing their power and hurting American families by allowing Walmart to violate workers’ rights.”

“For the past three years, Walmart workers have been raising concerns about persistent understaffing at stores and its impact on wasted food, un-stocked shelves, long check-out lines and lower sales,” the press release concluded.

The AFL-CIO also supported the protests. Kevin Banatte, a digital strategies fellow for the union, said in a statement, “You’ve definitely seen the local news stories where crowds of people swarm outside stores, fighting for the best Black Friday deals. But on this Black Friday, people are at Walmart stores across the country to fight for something else—a fair deal for Walmart workers.”

Though the UFCW is proud of how widespread the protests were, Brooke Buchanan, the senior director of corporate communications at Wal-Mart, claimed they didn’t have much impact on the store’s sales.

“We’ve had awesome Black Friday events this year because of the tremendous work of nearly one million dedicated associates. Our associates went above and beyond to help deliver a better holiday season for our customers and their families,” Buchanan said in a statement.

She went on to say, “Even with more associates scheduled to work than ever, 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.”

“Our associates do an absolutely incredible job on Black Friday, and we won’t let anyone try to distract from the credit our associates deserve for their hard work,” Buchanan noted. “Perception is never reality with labor unions. The crowds are mostly made up of paid union demonstrators and they do not represent our 1.3 million associates who do work for Walmart in the U.S. This is our busiest time of the year.”

Rian Wathen, a former organizing director for the UFCW, told reporters earlier in the week that Wal-Mart employees don’t really want to sign up for unions. Protest organizers have been accused of trying to bypass federal labor laws through union front groups.

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