FOLSOM — Members of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters protested Wednesday outside the construction area of a Dollar General on Route 54, claiming the company builds its stores “below the area’s standards.”
The protest, one of many that have occurred in South Jersey, featured members of Carpenters Local 255 giving out fliers and holding a large sign that said, “Shame on Dollar General.”
They say the company uses independent, nonunion contractors that pay their employees low wages to construct the stores across the area.
“We’re here educating people that Dollar General builds their stores below the area’s standards. It’s not a fair wage,” said Ed Hagaman, a representative from Local 255. “We’re not necessarily upset that they’re using non-union labor, we’re protesting that they get a fair wage.”
Wages can vary from $22 to $25 an hour, but it depends on the independent contractor, Hagaman said. Another main issue they have is that independent contractors don’t necessarily provide or make payments for health care or pensions.
A representative from Dollar General, which operates out of Tennessee, did not return a request for comment.
Dollar General stores have been popping up in many towns across South Jersey, much to the ire of local residents.
In September, the Upper Township Planning Board approved a site plan for a new Dollar General after a 3½-hour meeting that included opposition from residents.
The Dollar General at 1435 Route 50 is the chain’s third location in Upper Township.
Some residents in Upper Township, many of whom live within 200 feet of the store, begged the Planning Board not to approve it, saying they were at the mercy of the company and the township.
The main argument from residents is the store would decrease home values in the area.
Despite residents’ pleas, the board said it had no choice but to approve the Dollar General, because the company filled out every required form and is in compliance with every code needed to open.
“This board is charged with making decisions based on law,” Hobie Young, a Planning Board member and township committeeman, said at that meeting.
Besides the protests for a fair wage, there have not been other protests to building a Dollar General in Folsom.