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70 protest at local Wal-Mart

About 70 union members, supporters and workers held an hour-long protest at a Butler Twp. Wal-Mart Monday, saying employees there were being retaliated against for speaking out against working conditions.

It was one of two protests outside area Wal-Marts, the other in Evendale. The protests were organized by Our Wal-Mart, an employee protest group, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 75, which represents food and grocery workers including those at Kroger and other retail stores. The demonstrations are part of a campaign around the country in advance of Black Friday, the big holiday shopping day that follows Thanksgiving.

Scott Stringer, 27, and Ricki Hahn, 31, two employees at the Wal-Mart at 3465 York Commons Blvd., said they were on a one-day strike as part of the protest. “We want to put an end to the bullying,” Hahn said.

Stringer and Hahn handed strike statements to store manager Archie Phillips in the store parking lot surrounded by protesters. Stringer read his statement, saying, “I’ve been called a dog and a cancer and had boxes thrown at me. I believe in a better Wal-Mart where associates can speak without retaliation.”

Pressed by Bill Dudley, director of campaigns for UFCW, Phillips told the two that there would be no retaliation in response.

Wal-Mart employees around the country have filed unfair labor practices complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, including local employees, the union said. UFCW said in a statement that it’s calling on Wal-Mart to pay associates a minimum of $25,000 per year and offer more full-time work.

Wal-Mart managers, made available to the media inside the store, said they were unaware of conditions that would prompt the complaints. Jared Lee, 40, a shift manager, and Amber Callentine, 30, spoke of open-door policies and a good environment.

“It’s a hard job, and everyone is entitled to their opinion,” Callentine said.

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