Demonstrators protest wages at Walmart stores across the country - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Demonstrators protest wages at Walmart stores across the country

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

While Black Friday shoppers were trying to find some good deals at Walmart, a union-backed protest took place outside stores demanding better pay and working conditions.

Demonstrators were outside of a Walmart in Tempe near Elliot and Guadalupe early Friday, holding signs -- urging the retail giant to change its policies.

"We're asking Walmart to treat their workers better, to pay them better, to give them affordable benefits and to stop retaliation against workers who speak out on the job -- workers who ask for more hours, things like that," said event organizer Joe Murphy.

This isn't just happening in Arizona, protests took place at stores across the country on Friday.

Walmart statement on Black Friday events:

"This has been the most successful Black Friday in Walmart's history, with customers receiving bigger and better savings and an overall safer shopping experience. We're proud of the hard work our associates have put into making this a great Black Friday for our customers, and we're pleased we can provide them with holiday pay equal to an additional day's work, as well as a 25 percent discount on an entire basket of goods for their extraordinary efforts.

"Black Friday is a big stage, and we're one of the biggest players in the retail industry. We're not surprised that those trying to change our industry are using this platform to get their message out, and we respect their right to be heard. We expect some demonstrations at our stores today, although far fewer than what our critics are claiming and with hardly any actual Walmart associates participating. 

"For our part, we want to be absolutely clear about our jobs, the pay and benefits we offer our associates, and the role retail jobs play in the U.S. economy. Walmart provides wages on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average, close to $12.00 an hour. The majority of our workforce is full-time, and our average full-time hourly pay is $12.81 an hour. We are also proud of the benefits we offer our associates, including affordable health care, performance-based bonuses, education benefits, and access to a 401K. 

"Of course, we have entry-level jobs and we always will. The real issue isn't where you start. It's where you can go once you've started. Retail is one of the few industries that has jobs at all levels and ongoing advancement opportunities. Walmart promotes on average more than 430 associates a day. By year's end, we will have promoted 160,000 associates, including 25,000 this holiday season alone. It's businesses like Walmart that can create opportunities for career growth and greater economic security for families."

- David Tovar, Vice President, Corporate Communications

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