Walmart workers plan Black Friday protests

(CBS News) This Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. At Walmart, signs advertising sales may be competing this year with signs carried by unhappy employees on protest lines.

Dozens of Walmart workers protested outside a store near Washington, D.C., Monday. Hundreds of similar pickets are planned at Walmart stores and warehouses across the country.

Dan Hindman has worked at a Walmart near Los Angeles for four years. The former employee of the month, who makes $9.80 an hour, says he is scheduled to work on Black Friday but does not plan to show up.

"Walmart needs to learn that it's not fair how they treat us," Hindman says.

The protesters want minimum hourly pay raised to $13, more full-time work and less-costly health care. Next year, their insurance premiums will jump by as much as 36 percent, as Walmart scales back its contribution.

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"We don't want to walk out on Black Friday. We don't want to do this. It's just something we have to do, because it's the right thing to do," Hindman says.

He says his schedule was cut to 15 hours per week when he joined a group of Walmart employees who favor unionizing. He lost custody of his four-year-old son when he could no longer support him.

"So I lost my son and I'm kind of regretting working for Walmart, but I have to provide, you know?" says an emotional Hindman. "It's the biggest retailer in the world, and you can't help me provide for my son? It kills me, dude. It really tears me apart, big time."

Walmart tried to head off large-scale protests with a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board. The company says the demonstrations are being orchestrated by outside unions.

"This is just another union publicity stunt, and the numbers they are talking about are grossly exaggerated," says Walmart Vice President David Tovar. "If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job, and if they don't, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences."

Walmart has successfully blocked several attempts by outside groups to unionize its 1.3 million workers in the U.S. It isn't clear whether the employees protesting this week are trying to form a union or simply shame Walmart on the biggest shopping day of the year.

  • Ben Tracy

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