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Photos: Walmart Protesters March, Go On Hunger Strike For Better Wages On Black Friday

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Protests wearing shirts about fasting outside Long Beach's Walmart (Photo courtesy of Giovanna Frank-Vitale)
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Black Friday protests have been staged outside Walmart stores throughout the nation today—including Long Beach—to bring to light that employees are fighting for higher wages and better labor conditions.

Outside the Long Beach store on the 150 block of E 5th Street, over 150 protesters have been marching since this morning, reported Press-Telegram. The strike was organized by OUR Walmart, a nonprofit group supported by the United Food & Commercial Workers union that says they're fighting for $15 an hour or more wages, more full-time positions for Walmart employees, and ending retaliation against workers who speak up against their work conditions. The group says two-thirds of Walmart's retail employees make less than $25,000 a year.

Protesters held signs that read: "Slavery is alive and well at Walmart" and "Walmart pay workers $15 to feed a family."

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On Thanksgiving day, protesters began a 24-hour hunger strike outside the Long Beach store starting at noon to illustrate that their low wages at Walmart are leaving their families hungry, reported CBS Los Angeles. Today, when the fast ended, the former and current employees sat around a table and broke bread together.

This is one of the 2,249 protests staged across the U.S. today. Earlier this month, 23 protesters were arrested outside of a Pico Rivera Walmart store after they blocked an intersection and didn't disperse.

The reason these protests are timed with Black Friday shopping is that organizers hope to make people aware that although Walmart profits from the biggest shopping day of the year, protesters say the giant corporation isn't fairly sharing their huge earnings with their workers.

Amanda Henneberg, Walmart spokesperson, told DCist in an email about the protests: "Perception is never reality with labor unions. The crowds are made up of paid union demonstrators and they are not representative of our 1.3 million associates across the country. This is our busiest time of the year. We’re excited to kickoff the holiday season and are focused on serving our customers. It’s unfortunate that this group attempts to disrupt the holiday spirit to push their agenda. The reality is that Walmart is focused every day on providing our associates with opportunities for job growth."

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