About 50 people braved the blustery cold Friday morning near Wal-Mart on West Kimberly Road in Davenport to pray for Wal-Mart employees who protesters said are underpaid.

Originally, the group, consisting of faith-based and union groups, planned to hold the vigil inside the store but store officials said they asked police on the scene to inform the group they had to take their protest off

Wal-Mart property, which they did.

One man began shouting obscenities at one officer. Group leaders later said that man did not represent the peaceful vigil they were attempting to conduct. “There always are some who are overzealous,” said Loxi Hopkins, of the Diocese of Davenport’s social action department.

The protest was one of a number held at stores nationwide Thursday and Friday, critical of the wages, benefits and treatment of employees of the world’s largest retailer.

The efforts seemed to do little to keep shoppers away, though — Wal-Mart said it was its best Black Friday ever.

Outside the Davenport store, prayers were recited with responses from the crowd. Among the readings was one that said how Wal-Mart “claims it helps poor people by providing low prices. And yet Wal-Mart keeps its mainstay associates poor by paying such low wages and poor benefits.”

“All we are asking is for them to be treated fairly,” said Scott Noyd, a local union representative.

A local store manager referred all media inquiries to the company’s corporate officials.

The issue is part of a broader campaign against the company’s treatment of workers that’s being waged by a union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers.

Shortly after midnight, OUR Walmart said workers walked off their jobs in stores in Dallas, Miami and Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday.

For their part, retailers say they are giving shoppers what they want. Dave Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said that the discounter learned from shoppers that they want to start shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner.

Still, Tovar said that Wal-Mart works to accommodate its workers’ requests for different working hours. “We spent a lot of time talking to them, trying to figure out when would be the best time for our events,” he said.

The retailer filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board last week against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The company said that the demonstrations organized by OUR Walmart threatened to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and associates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(6) comments

bailaw
bailaw

With which language of the first amendment do you take exception? Religion? Assembly? Speech?

Perhaps you are just grumpy.

twiggy
twiggy

80% of Walmart workers are on food stamps. So, the government is covering what Walmart won't cover by paying a livable wage. 80%!!! , That's a LOT! So, we vilify the low wage earners who work at Walmart for being on food stamps. and we vilify the unions who dare try to help those workers get a better wage. But we LOVE the Walton's and deify their papa? Seems a bit off to me.

Bobby Vee

Strange how the wives of union workers shop at Walmart.

twiggy
twiggy

some undoubtedly do, but be assured, many, many do not.

senor citizen

A lot of people would not have a job if it were not for Wal Mart, K-Mart and large retailers because they have not the skills to work in other businesses. I have often wondered why these stores did not hire more productive workers, pay them better, and obtain more positive results.

PainfullTruth

"consisting of faith-based and union groups"......

Here is a suggestion for you. Mind your own business. Especially now after the election and hearing tons of **** about both, religion and unions, they both need to go to sleep.

Here is the bottom line. Unemployment is above 8%, has been for months and people need jobs, any jobs. This includes Wal-Mart jobs. If YOU don't like how much they pay their employees, then YOU don't need to work there. If YOU don't like that they are not union, then YOU don't need to shop there. Stop huddling out on the street corners and making fools of yourself protesting a business because they operate under conditions you don't agree with. I am so sick of seeing the "union brothers" and their inflatable pig and picket signs in front of any business that is not using union labor. Lower your bids and win jobs against non-union shops and stop crying on street corners.

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