Protests held at Walmarts across the country

November 23, 2012 8:16:50 PM PST
Walmart says it had its best Black Friday ever, despite protests in front of its stores across the country.

A group called OUR Walmart says it held 1,000 protests Friday over wages, benefits and treatment of workers.

"Give yourself a break on Black Friday, come check it out," said a protester.

They're calling it a free market.

Walmart protesters were giving out free stuff, trying to stop people from going into the store in Centereach.

"We feel that Walmart with the billions and billions that they make to pay a fair wage to their employees," said Shari Foster, a Medford resident.

There was a similar strike outside of a Walmart in East Meadow.

Organizers say these strikes are just two of 1,000 strikes happening across the country Friday.

"Employers have to start taking responsibility for how they treat workers. There's a high cost to the people in this community to the low cost that Walmart is trying to pass along," said Patrick Purcell, UFCW Local 1500.

Protest organizers say Walmart workers themselves have been walking off the job and joining the picket lines.

In response to that, Walmart CEO Bill Simon issued a statement to Eyewitness News saying, "We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year."

The company reported increased crowds for Black Friday and that it had about 22 million customers on Thanksgiving alone.

"I think they should make money, they're entitled to make money, but I think they should also feel the obligation to pay their workers a decent wage," said Beth Dimino, of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers' Association.

So while there are some strong opinions on the anti Walmart front, Eyewitness News spoke with a number of people coming out of a Walmart on Long Island who offer a different view.

"I need to save in this economy. I mean I took a $30,000 pay cut when I lost my job. I feel bad for them, but I need to save too and make sure my son and family has Christmas too," said Carrie Neckles, a Shirley resident.

Eyewitness News also saw people ignore the protesters and continue on their way.

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