Barkhamsted Dollar General employees looking to join union

Barkhamsted Dollar General store. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Barkhamsted Dollar General store. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

BARKHAMSTED — The five employees at The Dollar General store, located at 390 New Hartford Rd., are looking to join United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 371.
According to Recorder/Organizing Director Jessica Petronella, the store currently has three full-time employees and two part-time employees.
The five employees have called for an election on whether or not they would join the union.
However, the date for the election has not been scheduled.
“They are calling the election because they are having issues with the company,” Petronella said to The Winsted Phoenix. “One of the issues is that they don’t get holiday pay for Thanksgiving or Christmas.”
She said that the store stays open for both holidays.
“The employees are all worried about retaliation from the company for bringing up these issues, including getting fired,” she said. “They would like to have union representation to protect them.”
Petronella said that the company has not listened to the various concerns of the employees.
“After we petitioned for the election there was a response from the corporation,” she said. “The corporation has had people in the store every day, upwards of 15 people from the company. Some of them are human resources representatives just trying to put pressure on them to try to vote no for the union. They have been working alongside the store employees every day. They have also had meetings with them telling the employees that they don’t need a third party to speak for them.”
Petronella said that the company has discouraged its store employees from joining a union.
“They have been putting pressure on the employees every day,” she said. “Before the store employees called for an election, corporate representatives from the company were never in the store. And now they have petitioned, they have flown people from all over Tennessee and they have been in the store every day since we’ve petitioned from open to close.”
She said while there is no date for the election on whether or not the employees join the union, there is a hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 12 concerning the election.
“If we can’t agree on the terms of the election, we will have a vote at the hearing,” she said. “Lately, there has been more interest in organizing into unions by employees at various stores. Not just with dollar stores, but I’ve gotten more calls of interest since the pandemic. There’s a lot of interest lately because there is a lack of help at these stores. Because of lack of help, there are more expectations on workers to get the job done in the same amount of time. I’m getting a lot of that. With the minimum wage going to $15, there is an issue where people that have been around for a long time are making the same amount of money as people who are coming in on just hired. There is a compression issue with a minimum wage that is encouraging people to organize.”
Representatives from Dollar General would not respond to calls for comment for this story.
According to its website, the store chain has 17,000 stores in 46 states.
Petronella said that, if employees approve joining a union, it would be the second unionized Dollar General in the country.

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