Buy Nothing Day began in September of 1992 "as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption." It was started by Vancouver artist Ted Dave, but subsequently embraced by Adbusters magazine and moved to Black Friday as a protest against unbridled consumerism. Participants have marked the occasion by cutting up credit cards, staggering around retail outlets dressed as zombies and, increasingly, protesting Walmart's treatment of workers. This morning, protesters were arrested outside a Walmart in Alexandria, Virginia, and a demonstration is currently underway outside the Walmart in Secaucus, New Jersey.

[UPDATE BELOW] Demonstrators are calling on the chain to offer employees more full time work and pay $25,000 a year, end illegal retaliation against employees, and improve labor standards. Organizers say there are 1,500 protests planned across the country, but it's unclear how many are happening as planned. Other arrests for civil disobedience were reported in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.

During a conference call with reporters at noon today, protest organizers said they don't currently know how many of today's protesters are Walmart employees, but many Walmart workers who've protested in the past say they've faced retaliation. Dominic Ware, a 27-year-old former Walmart associate, says he was fired this summer after taking part in a 14-day work stoppage to protest the poor wages. “Some people really do spend 20 to 30 years in retail,” Ware argues. “It really is a career now and we have to treat it that way. And Walmart’s way of doing things is not working in today’s economy.”

Update 2:01 reports at least half a dozen people have been arrested at the protest outside the Secaucus Walmart, while organizers are saying over a dozen were arrested.