9 Arrested in Black Friday Protest at Paramount Walmart
Walmart workers protest outside the store in Duarte. (November 23, 2012)
Employees had organized a demonstration outside the store as part of a nationwide protest organized by the union-backed group OUR Walmart.
Lakewood Boulevard at Rosecrans Avenue was shut down around 12 p.m. as protesters filled the streets.
Deputies moved in and arrested nine people who sat on the ground and refused to move, accusing the corporate giant of intimidation and bullying.
One of the people arrested told KTLA that it was his first time being arrested but felt it was "important to get the message out there" and that they are not being "respected as employees."
Walmart issued a statement Friday, saying that the company had a successful Black Friday despite the growing tension.
"OUR Walmart group doesn't speak for the 1.3 million Walmart associates," the statement said.
"We had our best Black Friday ever and OUR Walmart was unable to recruit more than a small number of associates to participate in these 'made for TV' events."
Workers and supporters also rallied in Landover Hills, Md., Miami, Oakland, Calif., Chicago, Danville, Ky., Dallas and Kenosha, Wis.
They are calling on Walmart to end what they call retaliation against speaking out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care.
Many Walmart employees were also upset about having to work on Thanksgiving, which they say should be a time for family.
Black Friday came early for Walmart this year, with stores opening their doors to bargain hunters at 8 p.m. Thursday evening, up from 10 p.m. last year.
Despite the grumblings about starting sales on Thanksgiving, Walmart said crowds of deal hunters turned out in greater numbers than ever.
During the high traffic period from 8 p.m. through midnight, Walmart said it processed nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items per second.
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 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.
Last Tuesday, OUR Walmart filed its own charge with the federal agency, claiming that Wal-Mart tried to deter workers from participating in the protests and interfered with their right to speak up.
But the NLRB was not able to rule in time or issue an injunction. Nancy Cleeland, a spokeswoman for the NLRB, said the complaint is too complex to make a ruling so soon.