Dollar Tree/Goodwill, Kirkland

I work at the Dollar Tree in Kirkland for $15/hour for 18-20 hours a week, and I also work at the Goodwill in Kirkland for $12.05/hour, but I get 32 hours a week at that job. I usually try to have it so I work Mondays and Tuesdays at Goodwill and Dollar Tree, Wednesdays at Goodwill, Thursdays at both, and Saturday and Sunday is Dollar Tree.

They do some odd scheduling at Goodwill. Management will make people open, and then work a mid-shift, and then close — it’s all over the place. The managers don’t schedule enough people in the front, because the company isn’t willing to pay their people enough for all this work they have to do, so everyone gets overwhelmed. There’s so much work to do and so much going on at the same time, but there’s never enough money to pay the bills. And that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to work in retail in the first place. I didn’t want my life to be a rollercoaster.

I’m 54 years old and I worked in the trades most of my life. I did roofing and other kinds of labor and it took a toll on my body. I had never worked in retail, never in an office, and I don’t know anything about computers. But I needed work so I started in as a temporary warehouse worker at Goodwill, and then someone from the store went on leave, and so I stepped in. I had never thought I’d never step my toes into retail, but here I am...and it is way worse than the trades!

It’s tough because we get virtually nothing in terms of advance notice. They’ll put up a three-week schedule, but they will always change it. They do require 3 weeks notice from you if you need a day though. One time I was reprimanded when I was not there when I was scheduled, but I didn’t know that they had changed the schedule three days before. They didn’t notify me, but they told me it’s my responsibility to check on the schedule. It’s always back on the employee!

I’d like to get more hours at the Dollar Tree because that job pays so much more. But Dollar Tree is all part-time. Even the assistant manager is part-time. The only full-time people are the upper-level management. It’s a store policy. They save money — for me it's an excellent part-time, no-benefit job, but they stay away from the benefit part by making it part-time. Some people are retired, or on Social Security, and they can only work a certain amount of hours, so this works for them. But it's not for everybody. If it's your only job, you need full-time and healthcare. It's so much nicer when you have that.

A lot of companies think, “If I pay you, I don’t need to appreciate you.” But if you employ people, you have to care about them. And our voices — that’s what makes them nervous. It’s not raising your voice, it’s using your voice that makes them nervous. And I can’t stay silent.