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New Orleans Dollar General Workers Launch National Movement For Better Pay and Working Conditions
A group of Dollar General workers attempted to advocate for themselves at the shareholder meeting in Goodlettsville, TN but were locked out.
On Wednesday, 75 New Orleanian Dollar General workers traveled to the company shareholder meeting in Goodlettsville, TN to advocate for better pay and working conditions. However, their legally designated shareholder proxies were denied entry to the meeting.
Civil rights leader Rev. William Barber II, labor organizer Gabriel Boldenshaw, and Dollar General employee Kenya Slaughter all had the necessary paperwork to enter the meeting but were denied entry. Dollar General representatives at the door told them they could not enter because they were four minutes late.
Local workers were joined by economic justice advocates from Step Up Louisiana, United for Respect, Fight for $15 and a Union, #Putinaticket, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. In addition, workers from Dollar General stores across the south as well as similar retail outlets Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, and a variety of fast-food chains joined the demonstration.
Speakers included Mary Gundel, a former Dollar General manager who was fired after she documented her experience working for the retail chain in a series of now-viral TikTok videos using the hashtag #Putinaticket.
“Dollar General workers are standing up and joining a growing movement of hourly wage earners refusing to be treated as expendable any longer,” said Step Up Louisiana Co-Director and Co-Founder Benjamin Zucker in a press release.
“We’re here for respect, dignity, and better pay,” Dollar General employee David said. He asked to be referred to by his first name only in order to protect his employment. “We get paid little to nothing, and this is where we need to make our statement. Those executives get top dollar.”
In 2020, Dollar General gave CEO Todd Vasos a compensation package worth more than $16 million dollars. The company reported $3.2 billion in profit on $34.2 billion in revenue in 2021.
David reports that in his two years of working for the company, his pay has gone from $8 per hour to $9.25 - only two dollars above minimum wage in Louisiana.
“There are stores right now without air conditioning,” said Kenya Slaughter, a Dollar General assistant manager and Step Up Louisiana member who’s op-ed in the New York Times drew national attention to frontline workers during the pandemic. “There is no way that any store should not have air conditioning! And they can definitely pay us!”
“We come wanting fairness and justice,” said Rev. Barber. “We come here with the strength of nonviolence, simply to make a day’s living for a day’s work. We are tired of being offered up on the altar of greed.” Barber then led the demonstrators in a prayer that emphasized the intersection of economic justice with voting rights and healthcare.
In a stark contrast that emphasizes the disparities within the company structure, protesting employees were mostly Black, while the corporate’s management team is entirely white.
In recent years, Dollar General has been the focus of a number of negative headlines highlighting poor working conditions for employees, including:
OSHA Violations including rotting food, exposed wiring, and broken toilets
In-Store Violence including workers who have been shot, stabbed, held at gunpoint, punched, and pistol-whipped
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