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Wal-Mart workers protest on Black Friday; 10 arrested in Ontario

Ten people, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, were arrested for failure to disperse at a protest held in front of a Wal-Mart store on the 1300 block of Mountain Avenue in Ontario Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (twitter.com/wwunited)
November 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Employees and union supporters held protests outside of Wal-Mart stores nationwide on Black Friday over what they called unjust working conditions.

Nearly 100 people gathered outside a Wal-Mart store in Ontario. Authorities arrested ten people who blocked traffic on Mountain Avenue near the store and refused to leave. Among those arrested for misdemeanour charges was a man dressed as Santa Claus.

The protesters in Ontario joined 1,500 protests across the nation. About 250 protesters marched in steady rain outside of a Crenshaw-area Wal-Mart as part of nationwide demonstrations.

Organized by Warehouse Workers United, protestors demanded better pay, benefits and better treatment for employees.

Elizabeth Brennan of Warehouse Workers United said those participating in the protest said they were willing to get arrested on behalf of countless workers who refuse to live in fear and refuse to accept scraps.

Activists say Wal-Mart employees are allegedly paid less than $17,000 a year. The retailer makes more than $17 billion in profit.

Wal-Mart representative David Tovar defended the company's working conditions, saying most workers earn at least $25,000 a year. The average wage for full and part-time workers is nearly $12 an hour, according to the company.

The protests did not seem to deter shoppers from entering stores. Wal-Mart said it had its best Black Friday yet despite protests in South Los Angeles, Ontario, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, Sacramento, Miami, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C.

Rachel Walls of Wal-Mart said employees were busy providing good customer service to Black Friday shoppers.

The retailer has been one of the biggest targets of protests against holiday hours. Many of Wal-Mart's stores are open 24 hours, but the company offered early bird specials that once were reserved for Black Friday at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving instead.

CNS and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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