The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Dollar Store Workers up against It

Jan 1, 2024

If you add up all of the Walmart, Starbucks and McDonalds locations in the U.S.—that total is less than the over 35,000 Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores that exist. In vast rural areas and low-wage urban centers, dollar stores are the only nearby job for workers as well as the only place to buy toilet paper, clothes, soap, and food.

In a recent YouTube video posted by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a former Dollar General worker laid out the disparity between the pay of executives and that of dollar store workers. “You [executives] can go out and eat crabs and steak and filet mignon and escargot and all this. Meanwhile, your workers are eating ramen noodles. You all are making millions. I want everybody to think about it. Let me know, when did a Dollar General worker make more than $20,000 in a whole year? Don’t worry. I’ll wait!”

Most Dollar General employees make less than 12 dollars an hour, and close to 1 in 4 make less than 10 dollars an hour, according to a wage survey put together by the Economic Policy Institute in 2021. That same study found that 92% of Dollar General employees make less than 15 dollars an hour. No other national retail or fast food company surveyed paid lower than Dollar General.

The CEO of Dollar General had total compensation of 5.8 million dollars in 2022. Dollar Tree and Family Dollar have the same corporate owner and in 2021, the CEO received 3.7 million dollars in compensation.

Lawsuits and OSHA reports reveal stores regularly operate for hours with only one worker to run the registers, receive truck deliveries, and stock shelves. The dollar store business model packs too much stuff in too little space to save on warehouse costs. So, the clutter, chaos and blocked aisles seen in many stores are by design!

OSHA reported workers at an Iowa Dollar General store were having breathing problems. They suspected asbestos. But after testing, state officials explained the likely culprit was mold and “stains on the wall that were bat feces.”

Dollar store workers have reported injuries from rusted or faulty metal moving pallets and from items falling on them. Workers have been threatened with guns and have been pistol whipped on the job. Some have been murdered. Dollar General has been issued more OSHA fines than just about any other company.

But in the past five years, profits at Dollar General have gone up 50% to 2.4 billion dollars a year. Its stock price has jumped since the Great Recession of 2008 to double that of Walmart and triple that of Target Corp. Dollar Tree/Family Dollar reported 2022 profits of 2.6 billion dollars.

And profit is all that matters to these Wall Street billionaires.