USATODAY by Doug Scanlin
Scattered strikes and protests by Walmart workers and their supporters in at least nine states may have scored symbolic points Friday by taking on the retail giant head-on, but apparently they did little to keep shoppers away as the company quickly claimed its best Black Friday ever.
The company said in a statement Friday morning that its stores rang up almost 10 million transactions from the time doors opened for Black Friday shoppers at 8 p.m. Thursday until midnight, or about 5,000 items per second.
CEO Bill Simon said in a statement that there were only 26 protests at stores Thursday night, "and many of them did not include any Walmart associates."
MSNBC reported that workers walked out of stores in at least seven states and supporters held protests in at least two others.
The Nation reported that workers struck at stores in Dallas; Kenosha, Wis.; San Leandro, Calif.; and Clovis, N.M. At least one worker went out on strike at stores in Ocean City, Md.; Orlando; and Baton Rouge.
In Orlando, striking worker Lisa Lopez walked out with Alan Grayson, a newly elected member of Congress.
Protests were also reported outside a Walmart in Quincy, Mass., and in Landover, Md., where hundreds of union workers wearing "OUR Walmart" T-shirts marched outside a store in Landover, Md. OUR stands for "Organization United for Respect."
One woman, who said she and a colleague were on strike from a Walmart store in Laurel, Md., said the key issues were wages and an end to alleged retaliation against workers who complain about working conditions.
"We work hard, so we just want a decent wage," the unidentified woman told CNN.
Walmart denies that it retaliates against workers.
More protests were scheduled to roll out across the country as the day progressed, according to the website of OUR Walmart, which spearheaded the activity with the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
The Huffington Post reported that 70 Los Angeles Walmart workers from nine stores walked off the job Thursday in what the news site called the first walkout by workers in multiple stores in the retailer's 50-year history.
About 250 workers and supporters protested outside the Pico Rivera Walmart store, carrying signs that read, "On Strike for the Freedom to Speak Out" and "Walmart Strike Against Retaliation."
The workers said their complaints about working conditions and low pay have been met with threats, suspensions and terminations.
Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman called the protest "insignificant" in a statement to HuffPost, claiming less than five workers walked off the job. He dismissed the rally as "the latest publicity stunt' by a union seeking media attention.
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