Protesters stake out in front of Walmart stores across the state
By WFSB Staff
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
As shoppers search for deals, workers at Walmart say they've had enough.
Employees are protesting outside stores across the country, and here in Connecticut unionized workers are protesting on their behalf.
Black Friday is known for its great shopping bargains, and Walmart is at the center of the mad dash for sales.
The movement got started last month, with employees asking for job improvements, and gained steam in recent weeks when workers became upset over working on the Thanksgiving holiday for early Black Friday deals.
On Friday, those Black Friday shoppers are facing groups of protesters shouting, holding signs and handing out flyers.
But, those protesting aren't even Walmart employees. Workers have said they're too intimidated by Walmart to voice their opinions. So, members of other unions and local residents said they've showed up to show support.
Demanding better wages, hours and benefits, dozens of people gathered outside the Walmart on Flatbush Avenue in Hartford on Friday.
"We're here to tell the workers here that we stand with them," said Joshua Blanchfield, of Hartford. "Also to tell the bosses that this community will not stand for intimidation and retaliation against their workers."
Blanchfield said he's just a Hartford resident protesting the working conditions in the Hartford Walmart and locations across the country.
Jeff Welsh is a member of another local union and said he wants workers to have the same benefits he does.
"If they organize and unionize, then Walmart will actually need to negotiate a contract with workers and actually funnel some of those vast profits into paying workers a decent wage," he said.
One employee told Eyewitness News that he could not join in the protest because he was working Black Friday. He said he was happy people were fighting on his behalf.
"It's good, I like it," said one Walmart employee, who only wanted to be identified as John.
In Oakland, CA, employees walked off the job and protested right alongside Black Friday shoppers.
A Walmart spokesperson told Channel 3's Kim Lucey, "The unions that seem to be behind this push is really not representative of what we're seeing among associates in our stores."
They also said they don't expect Friday's protests to impact Black Friday shopping across the country.
"They should be getting paid more if they have to work on the holiday," said shopper Khahaem Brinkley of Hartford.
However, other shoppers said the workers could have made the point on another day.
"They do deserve to get what they want, but on Black Friday? No, that's crazy," said Nicole Barnett of Hartford.
Hartford police were at the Walmart during the protest to keep an eye on the situation. However, they did not get involved.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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