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Black Friday Protest Planned for Louisville Area Walmart

Angry over what they say are unfair labor practices, protesters are planning to demonstrate at a Louisville area Walmart on Friday -- traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.But organizers won't announce which Walmart will be the site of the demonstration until Friday morning, said Harold Embry, organizing director for the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 227, based in Louisville.As many as 50 people are expected to participate, Embry said. Workers at the protested Walmart may walk out and join the demonstration, but Embry said the organizers' intention is not to impede the store's business.The Louisville area demonstration is planned as Walmart employees across the nation may walk out on Black Friday, so named because the holiday business puts companies in the "black."Embry said Walmart employees and their sympathizers are alleging that Walmart is engaged in unfair labor practices and intimidating workers to keep them from organizing. The protests are being called for by the group Our Walmart.A request for comment from Walmart was not immediately returned.Update:  A Walmart spokeswoman responds, "We are preparing to have a great Black Friday across all of 4,000 locations in the U.S and we don’t think these actions by the UFCW will have any impact on our Black Friday plans whatsoever. Our stores will be operating normally on Black Friday and our customers will see nothing unusual when they shop. These so called protests involve a handful or associates at a handful of stores."Walmart is also fighting nationwide plans for walk-outs on Black Friday, the Associated Press reports. Here's more: Federal labor officials say they haven't decided whether to support a request by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from encouraging worker walk-outs that are expected to culminate Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other associates.Organizers are hopeful that some employees at the protested Louisville area Walmart will walk out and join Friday's demonstration, Embry said."We're not going to count on it," Embry said. "We have told workers that we don't want them doing anything they're not comfortable with."He added later, "We don't expect the entire store to come out."The goal of the protest, he said, is to bring attention to the labor dispute. The UFCW local and Kentucky Jobs with Justice are organizing the protest. Protesters are meeting at the UFCW lodge on Pinecroft Drive near Okolona, and then depart for the currently undisclosed site.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.