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Protest at North Charleston Walmart over wages and benefits

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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

More than 20 people protested Friday morning near the Walmart on Centre Point Drive.

Organizers said the protest was over low wages and lack of benefits for employees.

"As part of the community, they have a certain responsibility to pay people in our community a living wage," said protester Dave Crossley.

It's no coincidence they picked the busiest shopping day of the year to target the store.

Most of the protesters are from the group Occupy Charleston and the International Longshoremen's Union.

"If you work forty hours a week, you ought to be able to pay your bills, that's all there is to it," said protester Brian Knox.

Walmart employees did not participate for fear of losing their jobs, according to one protester.

"We're the voice that they are afraid to speak out. Nobody's gonna fire me for doing this," said Erin McKee.

For many drivers the protesters were just a distraction.

"I think they ought to let it go. We're trying to work," one man said.

The protesters said many Walmart workers earn so little that they qualify for food stamps.

"People don't realize many of their tax dollars are going to subsidize welfare programs all across the country for people that work at Walmart and other companies that aren't paid enough," Knox said.

The North Charleston protest was one of more than 1,000 that were planned across the country.

A Walmart spokesman called the protests a union publicity stunt, and said many of the demonstrators don't even work at Walmart.

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