North Carolina labor activists say they're protesting the social cost of Wal-Mart's low prices.
Protests aimed at getting the retailing giant to pay more are planned Friday at Wal-Mart stores in Raleigh and nearby Clayton as holiday shoppers crowd in looking for bargains. Activists say most Wal-Mart workers earn less than $25,000 a year.
"The support we're seeing in Raleigh – and across the nation – is overwhelming," said Patrick Snipes, former Walmart worker from store #2137. "And Walmart knows it – they're on the defensive."
Several protesters, including one dressed as Santa Claus, were arrested in demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores across the nation on Black Friday as some workers and supporters tried to draw attention to what they say is pay that's too low to live on at the world's largest retailer.
Ten protesters were arrested at a demonstration by about 75 people outside a store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, allegedly for blocking traffic. Two of the people arrested were Wal-Mart employees, CNBC reported.
"Everyone has a living wage and we need one, too," said Myron Byrd, 45, one of the Wal-Mart workers who was led away in handcuffs by police.
The Los Angeles Times reported that police arrested one protester dressed as Santa Claus at an early-morning demonstration in Ontario, Calif. The protester was holding a sign that read: "Santa supports workers, why doesn't Wal-Mart?"
The National Labor Relations Board said this week a preliminary investigation backed complaints that the retailer unlawfully threatened California and Texas employees if they engaged in strikes and protests ahead of Black Friday last year.
The NLRB believes Wal-Mart also illegally threatened, disciplined or terminated more than 100 employees in 13 states for participating in protests over wages and working conditions.
Wal-Mart says it disagreed with the labor board and planned to defend itself.