LOS ANGELES, ONTARIO (CBSLA.com) — Protesters gathered on Black Friday outside Walmart stores in Ontario and L.A., demanding better wages and working conditions for the retailer’s employees. The demonstrations were among several held across the country.
At least 150 demonstrators showed up to the Ontario rally that began around 6 a.m., Ontario Police Sgt. Dave McBride told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO.
As many as 10 protesters were arrested for failing to disperse, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, after they marched into an intersection of 5th Street and Mountain Avenue, said McBride.
“It was still orderly, it was still calm, they were taken into custody peacefully and they’ll be processed and released,” he said.
Another 250 protesters turned out for a demonstration at a Crenshaw-area Walmart.
Walmart has long been a target of labor unions because the company is a non-union operation. Protesters said they want to see a “living wage” of at least $25,000 a year in pay, more full-time work, and an end to retaliation against workers who have been speaking out for better jobs.
Walmart spokesman David Tovar defended the company’s pay practices, saying they were “on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average, close to $12.00 an hour…We are also proud of the benefits we offer our associates, including affordable health care, performance-based bonuses, education benefits, and access to a 401K.”
The retailer doesn’t anticipate any fallout from the demonstrations.
“We know that there may be a little bit of noise out there from some of our critics, but we don’t expect it’s gonna have any impact on our customers’ ability to shop or our ability to serve them,” Tovar said.
In September, Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon said the company offers workers many opportunities to become managers and earn higher wages.