Both Dollar Tree and Dollar General are under fire for safety violations and low employee compensation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been busy administering fines to the discount stores. Dollar General has racked up more than $16 million in penalties, and safety hazards have become so common that OSHA now lists Dollar General as a “severe violator,” a label the agency uses sparingly.
Two activist firms now want shareholders to do something about these accusations. Domini Impact Investment, a women-led SEC registered investment adviser, has come up with Dollar General Proposal 7, which will be voted on by company shareholders in a couple of weeks. The measure calls for an independent audit being conducted for worker safety and well-being. Then there is Dollar Tree Proposal 7, which has been spearheaded by New York-oriented investment firm United Church Funds and which would create a wages and inequality report. Dollar Tree officials will weigh in on June 13.
Dollar stores are commonly cited for blocking fire exits and electrical outlets and for having a high concentration of clutter. It’s all fodder for those trying to keep dollar stores from expanding. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) released a study earlier in the year titled the "Dollar Store Invasion" in an attempt to slow the growth of the discount retailers. Safety was a highlighted section in the report.
Most dollar stores have only one or two workers in the store at one time, making the task of clearing clutter a difficult one. Dollar General and Dollar Tree employ over 377,000, and both have been categorized as the fastest growing retailers in the U.S. Stores like Costco and Target pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour, and Walmart is not far behind at $14 an hour. Because most of the dollar stores are located in rural areas, where the cost of living is lower, wages are below the market average at those establishments.