Before March 28, Ms. Gundel’s TikTok page was a mix of posts about hair extensions and her recent dental surgery. Now it is a daily digest dedicated to fomenting revolt at a major American company. She’s trying to build what she calls a “movement” of workers who feel overworked and disrespected and is encouraging Dollar General employees to form a union.
Just about every day, Ms. Gundel announces on TikTok a newly “elected spokesperson” — each one a woman who works for Dollar General or worked there recently — from Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and other places. These women have been assigned to answer questions and concerns from fellow employees in those states and most are keeping their identities hidden because they worry about losing their jobs.
Social media not only gives workers a platform to vent and connect with one another, it empowers rank-and-file workers like Ms. Gundel to become labor leaders in the postpandemic workplace. Ms. Gundel’s viral videos appeared as Christian Smalls, an Amazon warehouse employee on Staten Island who was derided by the company as “not smart or articulate,” organized the first major union in Amazon history last month.
Ms. Gundel — who often dyes her hair pink and purple and has long painted nails that she uses to slice open packaging at work — has been able to break through, it seems, because other workers see themselves in her.