Protesters rally against Walmart in North Charleston
By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- On Black Friday, many shoppers got up early to try to get the best deal at a store like Walmart. But, protesters in North Charleston Friday wanted shoppers to know the cost may be higher than they thought.
"Most of their employees need public assistance. That's paid for by the taxpayers," said Erin McKee, president of the Charleston Labor Council.
She said Walmart employees didn't earn enough to pay their bills, which caused them to need social services.
"I've been told people who work at Walmart are told how to apply for free and reduced lunches for children at school and how to get Medicaid and social services. You have four of the 10 richest people on the Forbes list from the Walmart family," McKee said.
She said that meant Walmart could afford to pay employees more.
"Capitalism without a conscience is going to ruin this country," she said.
Walmart released a statement before Black Friday that said more than one million employees were working this holiday season. It said employees were excited for Black Friday sales, and wanted to provide the best customer service.
McKee saw it differently.
"A lot of the stores were opening at six and eight. You also then have a situation where families are not at home," she said.
Jackson Hamilton said he rallied for his generation.
"I'm 20-years-old. I know plenty of high school and college students that are slaves to these corps. They get absolutely no benefits. Thank god they're still on their parents' paychecks or else they wouldn't be able to support themselves," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said Walmart made America lose too much to overseas companies. He said it hurt local businesses, and wanted to see Walmart stay closer to home.
"Start buying American-made goods so we can bring manufacturing back in this country, raise the standard of living and bring small businesses back," he said.
McKee said money saved was just an illusion.
"You think you're getting a bargain, but really we're paying a lot in taxpayer dollars," she said.
Walmart employees in other cities protested their low wages Friday. The protesters in North Charleston said they supported those employee protests.
Walmart released a statement to ABC News 4 regarding its employee protests on Black Friday:
"The number of protests being reported by the UFCW are grossly exaggerated. It was proven last night - and again today - that the OUR Walmart group doesn't speak for the 1.3 million Walmart associates. 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. Press reports are now exposing what we have said all along - the large majority of protesters aren't even Walmart workers."