In January 2021, Mary Gundell received a letter from the Dollar General’s corporate office congratulating her on becoming one of the company’s highest performing employees. In honor of her hard work and dedication, the company gave Ms. Gondel a lapel pin that read, “DG: Top 5%.”
“Wear it proudly,” the letter said.
Ms. Gundell did so, placing the pin on her black and yellow Dollar General uniform, next to the badge of her name. “I want the world to see it,” he said.
Mrs. Gundell loved her job managing a Dollar General store in Tampa, Fla. It was fast, unexpected, and amazing. She especially liked the challenge of calming warlike customers and pursuing shoplifters. She earns about $ 51,000 a year, far more than Tampa’s median income.
But the job also had its challenges: delivery trucks that appeared to be unmanaged had to be boxed in because there weren’t enough workers to open them. They spend long hours running the store because the company only allocates so many hours to other employees. Dirty customers complain about the stock product being exhausted.
So on the morning of March 28, between running the register and tagging clothes, Ms. Gundell, 33, loaded up her iPhone and hit the record.
The result was a ten-point critique, “Retail Store Manager Life,” in which Ms. Gendell explained working conditions, within the rapidly expanding retail chain, with shops that appear to be common in rural areas.
“The thing I’m talking about is actually kind of bad,” Mrs Gundell said looking into her camera. “Technically, I can get in a lot of trouble.”
But he added: “Whatever happens, happens. Something needs to be said, and some changes need to be made, or they may be losing many people.
Her videos, which she posted on TalkTalk, went viral, including one that has been viewed more than 1.8 million times.
And with that, Ms. Gundell was immediately transformed from a loyal lieutenant in Dollar General Management to a clear-cut lieutenant who threatened her career to describe familiar working conditions for retail employees in the United States.
As Ms. Gundell predicted, the dollar general soon dismissed her. He was let go less than a week after posting his first critical video, but not before he impressed other dollar general store managers, many of them women who work in stores in poorer areas. , To talk tick talk.
“I’m so tired I can’t even talk,” said one woman, who described herself as a 24-year-old store manager but didn’t give her name. “Give me back my life.”
“I’m getting tired of posting this time,” said another unidentified woman, as she walked the audience from a Dollar General store and was discussing how she was forced to work alone because of a labor shortage. Been done
“This will be my last day,” she said, referring to Ms. Gundell’s videos. “I’m not doing it right now.”
In a statement, Dollar General said: “We provide a number of ways for our teams to voice their voices, including our open door policy and regular engagement surveys. We use this feedback to help us. To identify concerns and concerns, to improve our workplace and to better serve our employees, customers, and communities. We use them as additional opportunities to count and learn situations.
“Although we disagree with all the statements that are currently being made by Ms. Gundell, we are doing it here.”
Prior to March 28, Ms. Gundell’s TikTok page was a combination of posts about hair extensions and her latest dental surgery. Now it is a daily digest dedicated to stirring up insurgency at a major US company. She’s trying to create what she calls a “movement” of workers who feel overworked and insulted, and the dollar is encouraging general employees to create unions.
Almost every day, Ms. Gundell announces a new “elected spokeswoman” on TikTok – every woman who works for the Dollar General or has recently worked there – from Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and elsewhere. These women are set up to answer questions and concerns from fellow employees in these states and often hide their identities because they are worried about losing their jobs.
Social media not only empowers workers to connect and connect with each other, it empowers rank and file workers like Ms. Gundell to become a labor leader in the post-pandemic workplace. Ms Gundell’s viral videos appeared as Christian Sims, an Amazon warehouse employee on Staten Island who was hailed by the company as “not smart or obvious,” organized the first major union in Amazon history last month.
Ms. Gundell – who often paints her hair in pink and purple and has long colored nails that she uses to cut open packaging at work – has been able to break it down, it seems, because others Workers see themselves in this.
“Everyone has their own point,” he said in a telephone interview. “You can just feel so long incredible.”
Ms. Gundell planned a long career in the Dollar General when she started working at her first store in Georgia three years ago. She has three children, one of whom is autistic, and her husband works at a defense contractor. She goes to Titusville, Fla., Near Cape Canaveral. His mother was a district manager at Waffle House Restaurant. His grandmother was working at a gift shop in the Kennedy Space Center. Ms. Gundell moved to Tampa in February 2020 as Dollar General Store Manager, before departure.
He said the store had about 198 hours a week to allocate staff of about seven people. But by the end of last month, he had only been allocated 130 hours, which was equivalent to a full-time employee and a part-time employee when he started.
With not enough hours to give her staff, Ms. Gundell often had to run the store herself for long periods of time, usually working six hours a day and 60 hours a week without overtime pay.
Ms Gundell’s protest was posted by a hit video posted by a customer who complained about the deteriorating condition of a Dollar General store. Ms Gondal had these complaints from her clients. Why are the boxes blocking the routes? Why aren’t the shelves fully stocked?
She understands their frustration. But the blame on the employees is false, he said.
“Instead of being mad at the people who work there, trying to take over the entire burden of their work, why don’t you say something to the real big people in the company? Ms. Gundell said on TikTok. “Why don’t you ask for more from the company if they actually start to fund the store so they can get everything?
Ms. Gundell soon joined the network of fellow employees, some of whom had already gone public about the challenges at work. They included Crystal McBride, who worked for a dollar general in Utah and created a video that showed her shop’s dumpster was filled with garbage that people had gathered there.
“Thank you, friend, for adding some more dirty work to me,” Mr McBride, 37, said in his post.
He said in an interview that the Dollar General had fired him earlier this month and his manager had warned him about some of his videos. As someone who went through an abusive relationship with “just wearing my backpack” and lost her 11-year-old daughter to cancer in 2018, “I wasn’t afraid to lose my job,” he said. “I was not going to be silent.”
Neither was Ms. Gundell. As her online following increased, she continued to post more videos, many of them annoyed.
She was talking about a customer who had a knife thrown at her and a man who was approaching her in the car parking lot in the car and tried to push her through the window.
He said the company’s way of avoiding serious problems was to bury them in the bureaucracy. “Do you know what they say to you? ‘Hold on to the tickets,’ “he said.
Ms. Gundell started using the hashtag #PutInATicket, which other TuckTalk users tagged in her videos.
On the night of March 29, Ms. Gundell posted a video, saying that her boss had called her that day to discuss her video. To evaluate the company’s social media policy, he said. She told him that she knew the policy well.
“I was not specifically asked to bring down my video, but it was recommended,” he said in the video. “To save my job and my future career and where I want to go.”
He closed his eyes for a moment.
“I had to respectfully decline” to remove the videos, he said. “I feel that doing so would be against my morals and integrity.
Ms Gundell also received a call from one of the top executives who sent her a “DG: 5%” pin on which she was most proud. Ms. Gundell insisted on recording the call to protect herself. The executive said she only wants to speak through Ms. Gundell’s concerns, but does not want to be recorded. The call ended politely but quickly.
On April 1, Ms. Gundell reported working at 6 a.m. to “still do,” she said in a post outside the store. “I was just fired.”
He added, “It’s very sad that a store manager or anyone on social media sites has to go viral, to get some help in their store.”
Ms. Gundell continues to post videos and recently started driving for Uber and Lyft.
While Ms. Gundell’s attempt at unity can be a daunting endeavor, some say the impact is already there. In a recent TikTok video, a woman shopping in Florida at a dollar general trusted Ms. Gundell to force the company to speed up the shop in which she works.
“Look at the refrigerator – it’s all set there,” the woman said as her camera panned down the street. “They have toilet paper on the wall, everything.
“Thank you, Mary, for going viral and grabbing your ground and standing up to the corporate and losing your job, because it didn’t go unnoticed,” he said. “I’m proud to go to the Dollar General now, because look at it. look at this.”