Protesters in New Orleans, Louisiana demanded that Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General resolve safety issues and staffing shortages at their stores (source).
**This article is based on information sources from news websites.**
Unsafe workplace concerns at dollar stores
News sources have reported on increasing and ongoing retail "smash and grab" theft where thieves brazenly shoplift in stores and walk or run out with merchandise. Additionally, reports of other crimes (some violent) being committed in, around, and close to retail stores have become common.
According to a news report, such a crime happened in September at a New Orleans Family Dollar store where a man who had been shot entered the store for help. Another shooting took place about three miles from this store at a Dollar Tree in December. The report expands on another Dollar Tree incident that happened in another state with an irate customer and a knife. Other dollar store workers have given similar accounts about the lack of safety as well as staffing in their workplaces (source).
Dollar store employee pay and safety
In New Orleans, dollar store workers have come together to organize Dollar Store Workers United to protest and march on Dec. 8, for better pay and improved safety in the workplace. Step Up Louisiana (an economic justice organization) organized the event, which advocated for workers across the South fighting for higher wages (source).
Employees of Family Dollar, Dollar, Tree, and Dollar General stores are demanding the companies create and fill Community Safety Manager positions at each location trained in de-escalation and self-defense. They suggest this rather than off-duty police officers or security personnel because they say individuals in these positions prefer to protect property over safety within the community (source).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined Dollar Tree $1.23 million for workplace safety violations. Dollar General has been fined over $12.3 million and Family Dollar has received fines of $1.2 million.
The united workers are also protesting low wages. For example, New Orleans dollar store employees are paid between $9 and $13 per hour, according to a Step Up Louisiana spokesperson. Protestors are asking that dollar store employee wages be increased to $25 per hour (source).
One dollar store Assistant Manager reported taking a demotion because she was required to work hours that didn't allow her time to care for her daughter. However, she was still assigned management-level responsibilities.
Here's what she stated:
I just really feel that’s unfair. . . If I’m going to train, if I’m going to be in here by myself, if I’m going to be security – which I just refuse to be security and put myself in harm’s way – they want you to pay attention to people that may be shoplifting. That’s what they’re asking you to do, but that’s not what I’m paid for.
Low staffing levels are also a concern and employees say it negatively affects customer service because not enough employees are in the stores. The group suggests that higher wages would help attract and retain employees (source).
A representative of Dollar General issued the following statement.
Creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for our store teams and customers is a top priority, and our policies, procedures and training programs are designed and implemented with this priority in mind.
However, protestors say that their concerns go unheard. One employee said that dollar store companies' financials compared to what they spend to pay employees don't add up, suggesting not enough is spent on ensuring health and safety in the workplace (source).
Dollar stores are prosperous
Net income for Dollar Tree in 2021 was reported to be $1.34 billion, Dollar General reported earnings of over $2.65 billion a year ago, and Family Dollar earnings were $1.13 billion in 2021.
The bottom line for the protestors include just wanting a safer workplace, livable wages, and reasonable hours by having the companies hire and retain enough employees. And they do not feel that is asking too much.
What are your thoughts?
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