Several protesters, including one dressed as Santa Claus, were arrested in demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores across the nation on Black Friday as some workers and supporters tried to draw attention to what they say is pay that's too low to live on at the world's largest retailer.
Ten protesters were arrested at a demonstration by about 75 people outside a store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, allegedly for blocking traffic. Two of the people arrested were Wal-Mart employees, CNBC reported.
"Everyone has a living wage and we need one, too," said Myron Byrd, 45, one of the Wal-Mart workers who was led away in handcuffs by police.
The Los Angeles Times reported that police arrested one protester dressed as Santa Claus at an early-morning demonstration in Ontario, Calif. The protester was holding a sign that read: "Santa supports workers, why doesn't Wal-Mart?"
The protesters want the retailer to increase wages by 42 percent from $8.81 an hour to $12.50 an hour, which would boost the salary to $25,000 from $17,000 annually.
In a statement, Wal-Mart officials said the company "provides wages on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average,close to $12.00 an hour. The majority of our workforce is full-time, and our average full-time hourly pay is $12.81 an hour. We are also proud of the benefits we offer our associates, including affordable health care, performance-based bonuses, education benefits, and access to a 401K."
"Of course, we have entry-level jobs and we always will. The real issue isn't where you start. It's where you can go once you've started." It added that "by year's end, we will have promoted 160,000 associates, including 25,000 this holiday season alone."
Unions and their supporters have been targeting big retailers and restaurant chains to persuade them to boost wages. Critics of the movement say few of the protesters are actual workers -- but supporters counter that's because the workers fear retaliation.
"Walmart workers are part of the protests nationwide – despite Walmart trying to suggest otherwise," a spokeswoman for Making Change at Walmart, an advocacy coalition, said via email.
—By CNBC's Ismaela Best with reporting by CNBC's Phil LeBeau.
First published November 29 2013, 12:00 PM