Rev. William Barber leads protest against Dollar General over treatment of workers at shareholders meeting

Rev. William Barber leads protest against Dollar General over treatment of workers at shareholders meeting

- in News, Top Story
Rev. William Barber speaks to a group of protesters in Goodlettsville, TN on Wed., May 25, 2022 – Photo: John Partipilo

Dollar General workers and advocates protesting poor working conditions and wages marched to the corporation’s stakeholders meeting in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, only to be met with a locked door.

On Wednesday, labor advocacy groups, community leaders and Dollar General employees from several states—including North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi— met to protest the poor conditions many employees say they face while receiving less than livable wages. They were joined by Odessa Kelly, a candidate for U.S. Congress, and the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

The protesters marched to the stakeholder’s meeting at the Goodlettsville City Hall, only to be met by Dollar General representatives and police officers insisting they stay away from the doors despite being on public property.

Barber then confronted the officials about denying protesters entry into a public building.

“You are a citizen, taxpayers all of you, but most of all we’re human beings, and this property is public. The shareholders get to go in. They’re not letting us in. They don’t own this property,” said Barber.

Barber was allowed to pray in front of the building for five minutes before being given entry into the building. He was followed by two women—Gabriel Bolden Shaw and Kenya Slaughter—who said they were given permission to act as proxies at the meeting. As they neared the door, Dollar General officials were seen clearing a table in front of the stakeholder’s meeting. They then informed Barber that they had arrived too late to enter the meeting room, and the doors were now locked.

Protester pray outside the Dollar General shareholder’s meeting on May 25, 2022 – Photo: John Partipilo

Barber and the group had arrived at 9:04 a.m; the stakeholder meeting started at 9 a.m. The protesters had arrived 30 minutes before the meeting began but were pushed back from the door.

Barber continued to demand entry into the meeting room, knocking loudly on the door.

“We’re not trying to be violent, we’re not trying to get arrested. There’s nothing that says you can’t get in after a certain time,” said Barber.

“They’re making up the rules. I’ve been through this plenty of times. They saw you coming and as soon as they did they started closing up,” he said.

He continued to knock before being confronted by two people identifying themselves as Dollar General officials, who explained that the meeting was closed because it was being streamed online and that the protesters were disrupting it.

“Sir, you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” said Barber.