Union says retailer unfair to workers, Walmart says Black Friday sales strong

11/24/2012
BLOOMBERG NEWS
Walmart-Protests-Black-Friday

Shopper Jose Alvarez carries out a newly-purchased television past protestors Friday outside a Walmart store in Paramount, Calif.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Shopper Jose Alvarez carries out a newly-purchased television past protestors Friday outside a Walmart store in Paramount, Calif.
Shopper Jose Alvarez carries out a newly-purchased television past protestors Friday outside a Walmart store in Paramount, Calif.

Jamie Walsh faced a shopping dilemma: take advantage of Wal-Mart’s deals at the Salem, N.H., store or support union-backed protesters demanding better pay and benefits. In the end, the Black Friday deals won the day.

Ms. Walsh, 42, wearing a sweatshirt from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222, where her late brother-in-law was vice president, said she was aware of the union protests planned at Wal-Mart Stores locations across the country Friday. Still, she decided to buy an $89 electric ride-in Jeep, a LeapPad tablet, a dollhouse, a Sony Corp. PlayStation, and a $78 flat-screen television.

“It bothers me, but their prices are so good,” said Ms. Walsh, who is from Dorchester, Mass., and works as a medical assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union had planned more than 1,000 demonstrations online and at Wal-Mart stores around the country Friday to protest what it says are the retailer’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to keep people from working full-time, and discrimination against women and minorities.

The protests failed to reduce traffic at the world’s largest retailer. Wal-Mart said Friday it had larger crowds than last year and drew about 22 million customers Thursday. The retailer said in a statement that it has sold more than 1.3 million televisions, 1.3 million dolls, and 250,000 bicycles since its promotions began at 8 p.m. Thursday.