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Black Friday protesters push for better wages at Walmart

Vine Metas, left, joins other protesters as they

Vine Metas, left, joins other protesters as they set up to give away free stuff outside of a Walmart in Centereach on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

While shoppers searched for deals, protesters with worker advocacy groups rallied outside two Long Island Walmarts Friday morning to push for better wages and benefits for employees.

Outside the Walmart in Centereach, eight protesters from the Occupy Storefront group laid food, clothes and toys on tables in the parking lot. They said they were there to draw attention to Walmart's employee compensation practices and to share food and gifts with the needy.

One protester exhorted motorists to stop for something. "Everything is free," he shouted. "They can't beat our prices."

Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said "fewer associates called out absent over the past day than we see on a typical day. That tells us our associates are excited to be there for our customers . . . and they are not joining in made-for-TV demonstrations in any meaningful way," he said. "Our associates do an absolutely incredible job on Black Friday, and we won't let anyone try to distract from the credit . . . [they] deserve for their hard work."

In East Meadow, about 20 protesters from Long Island Jobs with Justice took to the sidewalks near the Walmart entrance, holding signs and chanting at passing motorists.

Organizer Kimberly Saget, a former employee of Walmart in Valley Stream, said the group had originally planned to stage a mock funeral procession inside the store to symbolize the death of "unfair wage practices."

But soon after the group began to congregate in the parking lot, Walmart store security notified Nassau County police, effectively ending the in-store procession before it began.

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