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Walmart workers protest ahead of Black Friday | PHOTOS
On Thursday morning, dozens of Walmart employees participated in a protest strike outside the Federal Way store on South 314th Street.
Walmart employees from the region walked off their jobs and aired grievances over wages, job safety and health benefits. Walmarts across the nation are expected to see similar protests through Thanksgiving and the Black Friday shopping day.
Carrying signs and green balloons, the workers marched toward a demonstration area in front of the store while chanting "Walmart, Walmart, you're no good, treat your workers like you should."
Several longtime employees of the Federal Way store on South 314th Street voiced their frustrations to the crowd. Aside from poorly resolved conflicts with store management, employee Sara Gilbert said her fellow co-workers face problems such as getting their hours cut and dealing with an overall lack of respect.
"We believe Walmart can do better," said Gilbert, a mother of five who supports her family on an hourly wage of $11.65 as well as state assistance. "We should not be penalized when we speak up."
The protest was organized by OUR Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) chapter 21. Employees from Walmart stores in Renton and Lakewood also participated.
"The UFCW, nationally and locally, has been a longtime advocate for getting Walmart to change its behavior," said Tom Geiger, UFCW 21 communications director.
At the Thursday protest, the SPEEA union also donated $2,000 toward the Walmart Striker Support Fund.
The Walmart Corporation released a statement to several media outlets in response to the protests.
“This is just another exaggerated publicity campaign aimed at generating headlines to mislead our customers and associates," the statement reads. "The fact is, these ongoing tactics being orchestrated by the UFCW are unlawful and we will act to protect our associates and customers from this ongoing illegal conduct.”
At Walmart.com, the company guarantees customers its "best Black Friday ever." The sales begin at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Photos from the Nov. 15 protest strike in Federal Way: