Protesters in front of the entrance to a Duarte Wal-Mart on Friday morning. (Adolfo Flores / Los Angeles…)
Outside a Wal-Mart in Duarte about 7:30 a.m. Friday, nearly 50 protesters in lime-green T-shirts walked in a circle outside the supercenter, beating a drum, pumping their fists in the air and waving signs that read "On Strike" and "Freedom to Speak Out."
The group, Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart, is advocating for higher wages, better healthcare and more consistent hours. OUR Wal-Mart organizers said 1,000 protests were taking place across the country on Black Friday.
Wal-Mart said 26 protests occurred nationwide and involved fewer than 50 associates, U.S. Walmart Chief Executive Bill Simon said in a statement Friday.
Richard Reynoso, 19, of Baldwin Park, walked out of his shift a half-hour early to join the protests. He picked up a megaphone and led supporters from the United Food and Commercial Workers union in a series of chants.
"Who's got the power?" Reynoso shouted.
"We got the power," the crowd responded.
"What kind of power?"
In the year he's been working at Wal-Mart, managers have increased their demands and done little to improve working conditions, Reynoso said. Since joining OUR Wal-Mart, he said he's worked fewer hours.
"They don't treat us with the respect we deserve," Reynoso said. "They think we're robots."
George Woodley, a 63-year-old Wal-Mart cashier, was also outside. He is a few years away from retirement, and wants to fight for current and future employees, he said.
"I know times are tough and people need jobs," Woodley said. "But the question is, what kind of jobs are we getting?"