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The Dark Side of Dollar Stores: A Look Into Terrible Working Conditions

Dollar General is a business known for supporting individuals and families alike during times of financial hardship. They offer low prices on essential items, making them a convenient option for college students on a low budget. Dollar General stores are often placed in more remote locations, making them the only immediate option for retail food to families all over America.

What you might not have noticed about the esteemed company is the terrible conditions their employees are put in every day that they come to work. Another trend you might not have noticed is the company’s ability to capitalize off of the financial hardship of their very own customers. Ironically, you don’t even have to take my word on that. To quote Dollar General’s CEO Todd Vasos: “We do very good in good times, and we do fabulous in bad times.” Fabulous is a weird word to describe profiting more when people are struggling to stay above the poverty line.

As someone who’s worked in a few different retail stores, I know the difference between good and bad work conditions first hand. That being said, when I say the conditions are terrible at many Dollar General stores, I mean terrible. According to a recent 2023 report by CNBC, Dollar General is the first ever store to appear on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “severe violators” list, as well as receiving $25 million dollars in fines for over 400 violations. To reiterate, OSHA was frightened enough by Dollar General’s work conditions to create a new list for the most egregious violators of their workers rights and safety laws. As if their blatant disregard for the safety of their employees isn’t bad enough already, the company is well known for restricting hours from part-time employees and forcing full-time employees to pick those hours up without overtime pay. Often times, stores are being managed by only one or two employees, saving Dollar General hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor costs.

It’s important what we can do to support the employees of this shamelessly ignorant company. Many have taken to social media platforms, specifically TikTok, to send a message to the general public about what working at Dollar General is really like. Travis Bennett uploaded a video on November 7, 2022 explaining the current state of his store:

“My store manager is overwhelmed, we don’t have enough staff, and my district manager doesn’t do anything about it. We are in a position we cannot get ourselves out of. We’re overloaded with freight, and we don’t have enough hours or people in the week to put them away.”

@itsabe90

@travisbennett767 needs help @dollargeneral #workers #leadership

♬ original sound – itsabe90

Customers of the store also record videos of their local stores with empty shelves, freight in the aisles, and severe understaffing issues.

We can only hope that this seemingly blind company takes notice and implements changes to improve the experience of their workers, instead of exploiting them for more financial gain.

CNBC. “Dollar General in Settlement Talks Over Workplace Safety Violations.” CNBC, 28 Mar. 2023, www.cnbc.com/2023/03/28/dollar-general-settlement-talks-safety-violations.html.

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