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Politics

San Diego Joins National Black Friday Protest At Local Walmart Stores

Workers protest Wal-Mart holiday work schedules outside a store in La Mesa, Nov. 28, 2014.
Erik Anderson
Workers protest Wal-Mart holiday work schedules outside a store in La Mesa, Nov. 28, 2014.

Union workers picketed outside four Walmart stores in San Diego Friday on behalf of Walmart's non-unionized workers. It was part of a national Black Friday protest against the retailer.

Outside Walmart in La Mesa, union worker Jose Rodriguez said the company doesn't let many employees work enough hours to qualify for health care benefits, which he said forces workers to seek out public assistance. He also said the company keeps workers away from their families by opening on Thanksgiving.

"We have major companies like Walmart and major politicians that always talk about family values," Rodriguez said at a rally outside a La Mesa Walmart store. "But when we really are supposed to support family, so family can be together on holidays, they kind of back off, right? They decide to take the commercial approach and they decide to continue to open shop. It's essentially all about money."

Walmart did not respond to an email or phone call from KPBS requesting a comment. A statement was not posted on the company's website.

Earlier this week, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, (D-San Diego) announced at a local Walmart that she planned to introduce a bill that would require retailers to double workers' pay on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Gonzalez said at a news conference Wednesday that demands on retail and restaurant employees to work on major holidays are not being matched by a holiday pay premium.

"So it's imperative for employees who are losing out on their Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to boost their boss's profits to be paid fairly for that sacrifice," she said.

Gonzalez delivered her remarks outside a Walmart store in Murphy Canyon, also the site of a Black Friday protest.

A tweet features an interview with a Black Friday protester outside of a San Diego Wal-Mart in Murphy Canyon, Nov. 28, 2014.

The rallies at Walmart stores in La Mesa and Murphy Canyon are among more than a thousand protests across the U.S., from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.

At demonstrations in Sacramento and Chicago, dozens of protesters were reportedly arrested.

Overall, at least 1,600 protests were planned in 49 states, Mother Jones reported.

Some demonstrations began earlier. On Wednesday, Walmart workers in 12 states, including California, walked off the job demanding higher wages and full-time schedules, according to Mother Jones.

In San Diego, a battle to raise the city's minimum wage has been brewing since Council President Todd Gloria raised the issue in January. The City Council passed Gloria's plan in July to hike the hourly wage to $11.50 over three years, but a referendum forced the council to put the measure before voters. It will appear on the ballot in 2016.

Corrected: November 26, 2022 at 1:18 AM PST
City News Service contributed to this story.
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