In a statement, Bill Simon said, “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year.”
OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers union, disagrees with Simon’s estimate. The group said “hundreds and hundreds of workers” walked off the job on Black Friday.
The group said it counted 1,000 protests in 46 states as well as strikes in 100 cities. Walmart said those figures were “greatly exaggerated.”
At a Walmart on Chicago’s South Side, only one employee out of nearly 500 participated in the protest. The lone worker, Tyrone Robinson, said he only earns $8.95 an hour working in the retailer’s produce department, and that his shifts have been cut back to less than 40 hours a week.
Many of the demonstrators were not actually Walmart workers, but supporters of the protest. At a Walmart in Paramount, California, there were about 300 protestors, but it was unclear how many were employees.
The protests didn’t do much to deter shoppers, however. Walmart said it recorded its best Black Friday ever, with nearly 10 million transactions between 8 pm Thursday and 12 am Friday.
Some shoppers were sympathetic to the workers’ plight. Thirty-year-old Joe Tegue said, “We need to put ourselves in their shoes. I probably won’t shop here; I don’t think they should take advantage of workers.”
Rosetta Brown, who has been an employee for 15 years and works at the Sam’s Club in Cicero, Illinois, lamented the treatment of employees in the post-Sam Walton era. Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962 and died 30 years later.
“Sam Walton was a good man … Walmart passed away with him,” she said.
Did you witness any Walmart walkouts on Black Friday?