Walmart and Fox report only 50 employees demonstrated on Black Friday: is that true?

Wal-Mart: Just 50 Workers Participated in Protests | Fox Business: “Despite concerns about pro-union protests hampering Black Friday sales, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) said Friday that fewer than 50 of its employees nationwide participated in the demonstrations while about 22 million customers flooded into its stores.”

Could they be lying?

Corporate Action Network: Below is a visual representation of all the events at Walmarts today organized through the Corporate Action Network (plus a couple in Alaska that wouldn’t fit on the image very well)

Historic Walmart Strikes Hit 100 Cities (Final Update: 9:20 PM) | The Nation:

2:35 pm: According to a spokesperson for Making Change at Walmart, a group tied to the United Food & Commerical Workers union, hundreds of Walmart retail workers have now gone on strike. He added that there are Black Friday strikers in at least 100 cities and protests in forty-six states. The spokesperson accused Walmart of making up numbers to minimize the strike, and said that it will take time to tally more exact figures because many strikers are walking off the job on their own in stores that haven’t seen past OUR Walmart actions. He reiterated the group’s position that the strike is legally protected, and pledged support for any workers who face illegal retaliation for participating.

2:15 pm: In an 8:42 am statement, Walmart declared it had “reported its best ever Black Friday events,” including “larger crowds than last year and a huge response to its first-ever one-hour guarantee on key electronic items.” Walmart US President Bill Simon wrote that “Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates,” and offered an “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.” The statement also touted Walmart’s 10 percent employee discount and “an additional 10 percent discount on an entire basket of goods” for workers who showed up on Black Friday.

[...] 12:30 pm: Hanover and Severn, MD—Four hundred–some activists, union members and striking Walmart workers marched down streets and through a shopping center parking lot this morning before being met by a Walmart manager, and police, across from Hanover, Maryland’s Capital Plaza Walmart at 10 this morning. Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta and local Reverend Edwin L. Jones Jr. asked the manager to commit not to punish the workers striking today; they say he replied that Walmart won’t retaliate, said it never does, and denied that national Vice President David Tovar’s comments that “there could be consequences” constituted a threat. At its height, authorities said, the Paramount, Calif. protest drew about 1,000 people. “A lot more people showed up than I anticipated, but that just shows you the kind of support we have,” said Wal-Mart employee Carlton Smith, who added he was one of 19 store employees taking part. “We have a common interest in making this great company better.” …The union group [OUR Walmart] estimated that “hundreds” of employees participated nationwide.

The Nation: Security at stores was excessive, even taking into consideration the sometimes chaotic scenes associated with Black Friday sales. After the morning crowd surge had come and gone, a weird mix of local police, state police and officers from the Sheriff’s department still patrolled the aisles of a Walmart in Kearny, New Jersey, occasionally communicating with store management about the presence of pesky protesters. Walmart was definitely the largest private recipient of taxpayer-funded policing today.

CBS News: Wal-Mart protests draw hundreds: Hundreds of people — including some employees — have taken part in Black Friday demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores nationwide, protesting what they say is the retailer’s retaliation against speaking out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care. According to organizers from the union-backed group OUR Walmart, hundreds of workers and thousands of supporters rallied across 100 cities, including Landover Hills, Md., Miami, Oakland, Calif., Chicago, Danville, Ky., Dallas and Kenosha, Wis. [...] In an effort to stop the protests, Wal-Mart filed a complaint last week with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the demonstrations violated labor laws. The retailer said the actions have disrupted business, and that the workers’ ongoing actions violate the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits picketing for any period over 30 days without filing a petition to form a union…

There is one general consensus in the news, however, that is very unfortunate: 

Reuters: Walmart protests draw crowds but shoppers undeterred: Protesters demanding higher wages and better healthcare for hourly workers thronged to Walmart stores across the country, though there was no evidence they disrupted operations for the start of the crucial holiday shopping season.

Businessweek: Wal-Mart Union Protests Fail to Deter Bargain-Seekers: Jamie Walsh faced a Black Friday dilemma: take advantage of Wal-Mart’s deals at the Salem, New Hampshire, store or support union-backed protesters demanding better pay and benefits. In the end, the deals won the day.

Chicago Tribune: Walmart protests draw crowds, shoppers largely unfazed: Dozens of local workers, and hundreds nationally, took advantage of Black Friday crowds and camera crews at major retailers like Walmart to call for wage increases. But there was little evidence that the chanting disrupted holiday shoppers.

What’s more important than your fellow human beings earning a living wage? Cheap towels and Xboxes, duh!

Let the eagle soar, ‘Merica!

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