LOS ANGELES (CNS) -
Hundreds of workers, union members and supporters called for Walmart, the country's largest employer, to reinstate workers, raise wages and improve working conditions.
The protest started at
Werner could not immediately confirm the exact number of arrests, but said those arrested -- who included clergy members -- were part of a planned act of civil disobedience.
Chinatown was chosen in part because it is the site of a proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market that has drawn spirited opposition and a lawsuit by residents.
Since June, according to rally organizers, Walmart illegally has disciplined almost 80 workers, firing 20. More than 100 charges of unfair labor practice have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, they said.
``Working at Walmart is like this: You get a check for $732, rent is $700, you put $20 in the gas tank and then you have $12 left over for food,'' said Martha Sellers, a cashier at the Paramount Walmart for the past 10 years. ``No one should have to live this way. I work for the largest retailer in the world and they make billions of dollars. Walmart can afford to give us full- time hours so that we can pay our bills and pay our rent, put gas in the tank and feed our families.''
Sellers and others say the company retaliates against those who speak out against working conditions and help organize strikes.
Walmart executives could not immediately be reached for comment, but their website offers one defense of employee pay.
``About 75 percent of our store management teams started as hourly associates, and they earn between $50,000 and $170,000 a year -- similar to what firefighters, accountants and even doctors make. Every year, Walmart promotes about 160,000 people to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.''