Hundreds of Walmart employees across the country, including Southern California, protested on Thursday, nearly one week ahead of Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
Outside the Eastvale Walmart, south of Ontario, workers chanted, “No justice. No peace.” And deputies arrested six protesters outside the Walmart warehouse in Mira Loma for blocking traffic.
Employees say they’re taking action on what they call low wages, irregular hours and a lack of benefits on top of having to work Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s not really American,” one worker told NBC4 News.
More than a thousand events are planned across the country in every state, said Elizabeth Brennan, with Warehouse Workers United.
And Thursday’s demonstration, employees said, is not the end of their protests.
“We plan on going on strike on Black Friday to send a message to all about how Walmart is not listening to us,” said Charlene Fletcher, a Walmart Duarte employee.
Customers said they’re torn.
“It’s just about the dollar,” said Corina Jimenez. “I think they should be with their family.”
“Walmart people are fortunate that they have jobs, many people in the community don’t have jobs,” said Carol Kettell, a Walmart shopper.
Walmart is not the only major department store expanding its hours next week. Sears, K-Mart, and Toys R Us plan to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, followed by Target at 9 p.m.
The major retailer also isn’t the only department store that’s taken flak for those extended holiday hours.
A coordinated effort to preserve Thanksgiving for employees has garnered more than 220,000 signatures from Target workers, customers and even shareholders on change.org.
Casey St. Claire, of Corona, started the online petition.
“If all the companies did it on Friday I don’t think it’s something that can hurt them,” she told CNBC.
Now a petition to get her fired has started.
“Enough with this entitled society,” wrote one supporter. “Give her all the time off she wants.”