Walmart workers protest Black Friday in Kansas City - KCTV5

Walmart workers protest Black Friday in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Some Walmart workers are taking advantage of Black Friday crowds to make a point.

They are holding protests around the country to draw attention to their complaints against the store.

The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, AR, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other associates.

OUR Walmart, formed in 2010 to press the company for better working conditions, is made up of current and former Walmart workers.

The OUR Walmart ralliers said they have already visited a few stores around the metro Friday morning, including the store in Roeland Park.

Andrew Miller said he was outside the Roeland Park store speaking for his friends and former coworkers who can't.

"Take a Walmart employee, assure them of secrecy, you'll note that the discontent is absolutely palpable, absolutely palpable. They absolutely despise working there. And they'd give anything to be anywhere else," said Miller, a former Walmart employee.

Miller worked as a Walmart truck loader for a year with a schedule he says consistently put him an hour or two under 40 hours a week for roughly $16,000 a year.

Protesters are hoping to use the busiest shopping day of the year to get the message across that Walmart workers want better pay and benefits.

OUR Walmart says it wants employees to make a minimum of $25,000 a year.  They are also asking for affordable healthcare for all employees and consistent work schedules and hours.

"It was imminently clear to us that they did not care, that they certainly didn't care enough to pay us a living wage," he said.

And Colby Harris, who works at a Walmart store in Lancaster, TX, says the store is doing everything in its power to attempt to silence his voice.

"But nothing, not even this baseless unfair labor practice charge, will stop us from speaking out," Harris said.

Walmart faced a worker walkout in October ahead of its annual investor meeting that expanded to more than a dozen states and involved about 90 workers. Walmart workers again walked off their jobs last week in Dallas, Oakland, CA, and Seattle. On Monday, some Walmart workers walked off their jobs as well, according to union officials. The number of workers involved could not be confirmed.

The nationwide campaign has groups, like the one at Roeland Park, gathering at Walmart stores nationwide. They aims to give Walmart employees who are not unionized a public voice.

It has won over people like Linda Nevelle, of Overland Park, who says she wasn't that much of a believer in organized labor.

"But I'm seeing today the real, absolute purpose of a union. To get us back on track. To understand employees are not being treated well," she said.

The 1.3 million Walmart employees are not unionized, despite years of effort, but they do have the support of other union members.

Dan Fogleman, a Walmart spokesman, described the latest tactics from the group as "another exaggerated union campaign."

The spokesman said earlier this week that the company does not anticipate any disruptions to shoppers if they plan to visit a Walmart store Friday.

"Many of these ongoing tactics by the UFCW are unlawful, and we will protect our associates and customers," he said.

If the disruptions violate the law "we will take the appropriate action to hold them accountable," he added.

Fogleman also said the company believes the OUR Walmart campaign is a misrepresentation of the majority of its employees.

Click here to read more about the OUR Walmart campaign.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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