In what's been called the largest civil disobedience in the history of Walmart, over 50 of the chain superstore's workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles.
The Huffington Post reports that the sit-in protest occurred outside LA's Chinatown Walmart, where around 500 people had gathered to protest what they say are “poverty wages” paid by the retailer. The demonstration was the first in what was planned as a series of protests leading up to Black Friday. Toward the end, more than 100 police officers surrounded the protesters and arrested those who refused to leave.
The primary reason for the Los Angeles protest was to demand that Walmart pay every full-time employee at least $25,000 per year. This figure barely clears the poverty line for a family of four, yet many Walmart workers aren't earning anywhere close to that.
Speaking to HuffPost, one of the protesting Walmart workers said he would make around $12,000 in 2013. Anthony Goytia, who is a 31-year-old father of two, says that for him it's a daily struggle to keep his family from going hungry.
“The power went out at my house yesterday because I couldn't afford the bill,” Goytia said in the interview. He explained that he'd taken out two payday loans to pay the rent, which was late for the month, and added, “Yesterday we went to a food bank.”
Walmart's employee practices include hiring temporary workers rather than giving permanent employees a full-time schedule, unpredictable work schedules, low wages and retaliation for speaking out, according to workers who participated in an earlier strike.
Gotyia is far from alone in working for poverty-level wages from Walmart. In a recent presentation, Walmart CEO Bill Simon stated that 475,000 of the retailer's employees are paid more than $25,000 a year, but neglected to add that 525,000 to 825,000 earn less than $25,000.
The protesters pointed out that Walmart can afford this nearly viable wage for every worker, considering the company made $17 billion in profit last year alone.
As a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, Vitaly Sigal represents individuals who are arrested and charged with various crimes in Los Angeles. Mr. Sigal provides an aggressive defense representation for his clients. If you've been arrested for a crime such as protesting for something you believe in, you can seek legal help from Mr. Sigal.