Video produced and edited by Paula Pecorella and Ian McKenna
Dollar General workers from across the south traveled to the company’s shareholder meeting in Nashville, TN. As Dollar General’s CEO boasted to shareholders about how much the company values its employees, workers were shut out from the meeting. Now workers are exposing the CEO’s lies. Below is a full transcript of the video.
[Protestors chanting]: So what do we want? Better pay! When do we want it? Now!
Kenya Slaughter: Absolutely. So I’m gonna go in here and hopefully they hear me out, you guys. But chin up, chest out. We got this. Thank you so much.
[Dollar General worker attempting to enter]: We’re shareholders. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus. I’m a shareholder. I have a right to be here.
Kenya: Shareholders gave us proxy to speak at the meetings and they denied us. So it was totally unfair. It was a slap in the face. But we know why it happened. They’re afraid and they should be.
[Todd Vasos, Dollar General CEO voice recording]: Our greatest strength at Dollar General is our people.
Mary Gundel: I want these shareholders to know exactly what goes on in these stores, and I want them to know just how unhappy and how unfair their employees are treated. And I want them to know that they don’t even have a living wage.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: We have made significant investments in wages, benefits, and training opportunities.
Kenya: Dollar General starts off at $8 per hour in Louisiana, where I’m at. Bread and milk is like nine bucks, literally for bread and milk. So I can’t even make enough per hour to buy bread and milk.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: Our investment in our people continues to pay dividends across the organization.
Ashley Sierra: Rent, lights—it’s rough [to pay bills]. Even having somebody else as a roommate working at Dollar General isn’t enough.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: Our ongoing goal is to pay competitive wages—market by market, position by position.
David Williams: There are times where I can’t even think straight—to not even know if I’m going to actually even keep my place.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: We continue to focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talented employees.
Chris Burton: If I had to just live on that income, it’s a squeeze. Like, I would really have to have to blinders on and not do anything else but penny pinch all day.
David: We’re still get paid little to nothing, pretty much pennies on the dollar. It’s like that quote, making a dollar out of 15 cents.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: Importantly, we continue to prioritize direct engagement with our teams to learn how we can continue to enhance our position as an employer of choice.
Mary: Honestly, I don’t believe that I was able to pay my people an efficient wage, and it really hurt me. And I knew that it was rough for them because I was having a rough time and I was making the most out of everyone [as manager].
While these shareholders are living high and mighty and they have all these nice, big, beautiful houses and nice boats and nice cars, the people who are slaving away for you, they can barely pay their electric bill. They can barely pay for groceries for their kids.
Kenya: They have all the authority in the world to give a raise. That would be amazing. And if they would give more hours so that the stores can run more smoothly, everybody will come out better.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: As I reflect on the year, I could not be more proud of our team and their efforts to embody our mission of serving others.
Kenya: Give us the hours to have the manpower. People believe the Dollar Generals aren’t staffed. We’re fully staffed. They can’t give the hours. There’s a cap.
David: There were certain stores you go into everything is all over the floor.
Mary: The motorized wheelchairs can’t get up and down the aisles. I’ve had customers trip and fall over boxes. It’s just not right. And then we get in trouble for that.
Never in my life have I ever seen a company turn their head like Dollar General does—ever. Ever.
Kenya: Dollar General doesn’t provide the best safety for its employees.
Mary: I’ve been threatened with a knife by a customer in my location. I was also almost kidnaped at my location while leaving the building at night.
Ashley: My store has been robbed three times previously in the past seven years. Not having any phone service on my cell phone or in the store was a major danger because if we got robbed, who am I going to call? Like I said before, my kids would be motherless. And that’s the one thing I can’t have.
Kenya: There are several stores in my district that have been robbed at gunpoint. The one that I work at was robbed at gunpoint.
Ashley: But I’ve never had this problem with any of the other retail stores I’ve worked at. I’ve been a bartender and never been left alone.
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: Ultimately, we believe the opportunity to build a long-term career with a growing retailer is our most important currency to attract and retain talent.
Mary: All these other companies I’ve ever worked for, they have standards— and it just seems like Dollar General has none. They look at you as though you are easily replaceable. “If you’re not going to do the job, that’s fine. We’ll get someone else to do it.”
[Todd Vasos voice recording]: My most sincere appreciation and thanks go out to the entire Dollar General team as we continue to fulfill our mission of serving others each and every day.
Mary: And that’s the message that needs to be put across to these people, that it’s not right to expect us or anyone else to do something that they’re not willing to do themselves.
David: Shareholders, I hope you’re really listening. We’re hurting and all we want is just a chance to live better, be better.
Ashley: The message I want to send to shareholders is, we’re coming and we’re not going to stop. You can be scared. You can kick us away, but our voices will be heard and we will get a seat at that table.
Videography by Tim Fadek