(CBS News) LOS ANGELES – Walmart is the nation’s biggest retailer — and Black Friday is extremely important to the company’s bottom line. It is why workers at some Walmart stores chose Friday to protest for higher wages and better benefits. From overnight protests in Wisconsin; to dawn demonstrations in Maryland; to those taking to the streets in the California fog — what was billed as a nationwide protest against the nation’s biggest retail employer didn’t quite live up to the hype.
We first met Hindman earlier this week. A sales associate in electronics, he was once the employee-of-the month. But on Friday, he walked off his job to protest what he says are Walmart’s low wages and high health insurance premiums. Asked for what is risking by being out here, Hindman said: “I’m not worried about no risk because I’m protected. I have the right to stand up for what’s right, and so does everyone else.”
It’s that “everyone else,” though, that has Walmart suspicious. The company says few of the demonstrators were actually striking employees, but rather outside supporters pressuring Walmart to unionize. Wamart’s Duncan MacNaughton: “In many of those locations, no Walmart associates took place, we had roughly the same number of calls-ins that we had last year.”
While there were a handful of arrests, Walmart says the protests had no effect on Black Friday sales. In fact, the company said it was the best Black Friday on record.