I have to separate this all because ther is a lot to go over.
"Welcome to the Salvation Army." A friendly cashier greets you as you enter one of these family stores. She tells you about the latest sale this week and leaves you to browse the many racks and shelves for something you might like. You find all kinds of things that look nice and new , well depending on the store you go into, and a a low price. What a deal! And on sale this week too! You couldn't be happier as you make this purchase. But you do not wonder what goes on behind the doors labled "Employees Only". I know...I work behind these doors.
Want a job? ok, you start monday.
After months of searching for my first job to help me pay for my college, I found an ad for help needed at the Salvation Army. So I sent my resume, Just as I had for any place hiring. I really wanted to find a job. A few weeks later I was called for a phone interview, nothing really significant was asked in my oppinion, and was told right after where and what time i could go to orrientation. The Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) which houses the "Benificiarys", this is what they call the men in the drug and alcohol rehab program, the Salvation Army chruch, and the main Indiana Salvation Army Thrift Store, was where i was sent for orientation. The place was a mixture up updated and rundown from every angle. we were told what to expect from out new jobs, standing for at least 4 hours, a 15 minute break, may have to lift heavy items up to 30 pounds, no paid vacation or paid holidays, no benninfits, $7.25 per hour starting out . I signed the form agreeing that I understood. Then we were sent to our training stores.
A Small Fortune in Trash
The training was pretty straight forward, just sort through the garbage and put out good things on the floor, everything else is "Rag Out" and get sent out on another truck. "Rag Out" is what we call items that we can not sell. Its ripped or stained or broken, and so we send it off on a special truck. For each truck load the Salvation Army is paid a certain amount. Every day we send out tons of clothing and other items that are deemed trash in the rag out, and every monday we pull items with a certain color tag off of the floor for rag out because it has been in the store for over a month. Piles and piles of rag out are sent out everyday from every store.
Lying About Numbers
One day we were told that we were being sent to a new store that was being opened up (30 minutes drive on the interstate from one store to the other) we had to be ther the next day at 8 AM and for the first few weeks would be working 8 hours rather than the 4 we were hired on for. We worked endlessly in a dirty back room for 8 hours sorting through clothes and other items ( quite often finding a box fill of just broken glass). Numbers was the name of the game . We had to produce tens of thousands of items each day to meet their standards, and that was only counting what was allowed on the sales floor. Sort through the bins. Make a straight pile. Send it to the hangers. Hang the clothes . 100 peices per rack. 3 racks per hour per person. tag the rack. price the rack. hang the rack on the sales floor. 20 minutes to hang on the floor. We did this every day until the grand opening, and were consistantly being yelled at by our supervisor that the store wasn't being filled fast enough. Racks were sometimes counted twice by him to make production numbers seem higher.
Robbed the Store AND $14.50 from my pay check.
Twice before Grand Opening our store was broken into and had many of our most valuable items stolen, we all suspected the same person. We had walked in one day, not noticing anything and went to work as always. until the boss came in ( he was not there when one of the managers unlocked the door to let us in, it was his day off) followed by the other two managers pointing out things then told us all to go wait in the parking lot. we had to stay outside as the cops questioned us and looked around in the store. 2 hours we waited to be let back in the store so we could get back to work. we were told that we would not be paid at all for those two hours because we weren't working, and we were not given a lunch, or one of our 15 minute breaks beacuse "[we] had plently enough time to get something to eat if we were hungry". We had been kept outside from 8am to 10am for questioning. I have to ask, who gets lunch at that point?
Every morning our boss would have a meeting at the front of the store to say who would do what job. and then we were all required to stay while someone said a prayer, a long winded one at that. half the emplyees were not religious. music was allowed in the work room as long as it was christain music. Benificiaries (they work in the stores as "work thereapy") say they must attend church as part of the rehab. Each day the same 10 songs play through the store on a loop, their message all obviously about the worship of god.
Our now former boss was once suspended for sexually harrasing one of the female employees. He was sent away for only a few days and then was allowed to return as our boss once again. He often through childish fits in the store, yelling sometimes at coustomers and employees. Once one of the emplyees had gotten a call from the school that her child was sick and needed to come pick him up. she was yelled at for it and told that the school needed to call the store number if they needed her. the school has said they tried the work number but the phone was never picked up. another employee was called by child protective services and was told she was not allowed to talk on the phone unless it was break time. durring the dought my state recently had the back room became a 90 degree oven and emplyees that left their work station to get a drink of water (we weren't allowed to keep drinks in the work room with us) were often yelled at about slacking off and taking unauthorized breaks. This particualy boss has been in many Salvation Army stores, he has also been written up and suspended for sexual harassment multiple times. They have fired him just as often and then made him manager of a diffrent store again later.
Rehab or Money Making Scam
We work along side the men in the rehab program and find out many interesting things about it. Like many of them are not allowed to go any where out side the building unless it is to work in one of the stores. They get no pay out of this as it is part of their treatment. Two of them told me that when they enter the rehab program they are made to get foodstamps. The Salvation Army then takes the food stamps and feeds the benficiaries out dated food that was donated to them. Some times now I still see them with food in christmas packaging in their lunches. Another tells me that in order to get bus passes for all of them so that they can take the bus back and forth between work and the ARC the Salvation Army has them listed as "mentally handicapped" on the form so they all get free bus passes. donations of razors, soap, shampoo, and deoderant are often set aside to be sent to the ARC for them.
Poor Work Conditions
the work room is an incredibly dirty palace. the floor is covered in dust and trash and dirt. Along the walls there are mountains of donations that never seem to shrink making the room very crouded and hard to move in sometimes. i've come across many spiders wile working here some the size of a half dollar coin and once while I was working in the shoes and checking inside for the size, a Brown Recluse crawled out. It was close enough to have bitten me.( and i can only imagine the hospital bill for bite from it). Our break room never seems to be clean either, there is food on the floor. old food in the fridge thats been there for months, and the tables are dirty. flies like to spend a lot of time in there and we've even found a few roaches. no matter how many times its cleaned it gets trashed again, there is no designated janitor or matinance worker. The restrooms are also foul (we only have 2 single stall rooms, one for men and one for wemon). they are rarely ever cleaned. the company doesn't supply us with toilet paper, we are required to bring our own if we want some. there are also no paper towels to dry our hands on after washing them.
There is so much more I could say about all this ....