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Dollar General workers demand safer working conditions as violence at stores surges

Almost 50 people have reportedly been killed at Dollar General stores nationwide since 2014 — and fed-up employees protested outside the company’s headquarters Wednesday to demand safer working conditions.

Dozens of workers rallied in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, ahead of Dollar General’s shareholder meeting to speak out against the all-too-common violence inside the country’s fastest-growing retailer while also calling for better pay.

“People are afraid to go to work,” Louisiana-based employee Kenya Slaughter said, according to WZTV. “People are getting guns pulled on them every other day. There are robberies at gunpoint.”

Since 2014, 49 people have been killed with another 172 injured at Dollar General stores across the country, CNN reported, citing data from the non-profit group Gun Violence Archive.

At least six employees were killed during armed robberies between 2016 and 2020, according to the outlet.

Safety concerns are numerous at Dollar General stores.

Stocker David Williams said during the shareholder meeting he was among thousands of store workers who fear for their safety, CNBC reported.

“We’re scared because we know that the leaders of Dollar General are not looking out for the safety of workers,” Williams told shareholders.

“The company has expanded so fast and so recklessly, that on any given day, I might have to deal with a rat infestation, a door that won’t lock or someone pointing their gun at me with no security to protect me.”

Williams cited federal violations when noting the additional safety hazards in stores, saying one employee can commonly be left alone at “night in areas where robberies commonly occur.”

The chain has faced millions in fines.

Company shareholders signed off on a resolution to create an independent audit of worker safety at stores even though the measure was discouraged by the company’s board of directors, CNBC reported.

It’s unclear if the vote is binding or if the company will undergo the audit.

The company has reportedly been hit with more than $21 million in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for numerous safety issues.  

“We strive to create a work environment where employees are able to grow their careers, serve their local communities and feel valued and heard, and we encourage employees to share their feedback through the many Company-provided channels so that we can listen and work together to address concerns and challenges, as well as to celebrate successes,” Dollar General said in a statement to news outlets.

Most workers at the company make less than $15 per hour, according to data calculated by Economic Policy Institute and the Shift Project.

The company has about 19,000 stores in the US and about 160,000 workers, CNN reported.