Photo: AP

In honor of Home Depot billionaire Ken Langone’s new book “I Love Capitalism!”, we are publishing true stories from Home Depot employees. Most of the hundreds of employees who have written in have a far darker perspective on the truth behind the store that made Ken Langone rich.

We have received more than 500 emails from current and former Home Depot employees so far. We ran the first two installments of excerpts from those emails last week. Though we have heard from some who say that they enjoy working at Home Depot—particularly those who have been at the company for 20 years or more and have built wealth in their 401(k)s—the vast majority of workers describe a job that offers dangerous work, low pay (even by retail standards), unpredictable schedules, anti-union rhetoric, and a galaxy of mismanagement.

Scheduling trickery

Home Depot would claim that you were given scheduling options each week by changing your availability dates and indeed you could request times or days to work. Problems is/ was that if your schedule did not meet Home Depot’s requirements your hours were cut . Lets say I was could not work until 8:00 am based on a Doctors appointment scheduled for my Mom. I would request this time off and then be given sixteen hours rather then 24 hours for a weekly total. A part time employee had no idea on any type of regular scheduled hours. You could never rely on a scheduled work day since each and every week they would be changed.

This weekly scheduling really plays out during the first months of the new fiscal year. For the first three months of this year and all years prior I was being scheduled for an eight hour work week. This was cut from an twenty four hour week to one day a week, usually a Saturday until 11, or what Home Depot defines as closing hours. The reason give “ none”, other than Home Depot feels that since business was down, part time employees hours were expendable . There was no “orange concern” over how or where these hours were to be . Manager told employees that this was always the way it was or is. Not other reason necessary.

What makes this more interesting was the timing of this. Here Home Depot was promising their employers a huge bonus based on Federal Tax reductions . My total bonus amount amounted to 183. Dollars after taxes after five years of working for Home Depot. My scheduled weekly hours were cut to eight for months after receiving that huge bonus. . That was a much longer period then prior months. .

I saw Paul Ryan stating that an employee of Home Depot approached him and thanked him endlessly for the bonus he received as a result Trumps tax cut. Let me point out that the store I worked for employed over 150 employees and only four qualified for the once in a lifetime bonus of I believe was 1,000.00 dollars after working for Home Depot for over twenty years. Those are facts not the make believe ravings of the Speaker of the House who stood behind a podium prominently displaying a gallon of Behr Paint .

Finally let me talk about wages. I was hired at 10.50 an hour in 2013. I left Home Depot making 12.00 and hour one month ago. You can do that math on how that breaks down yearly . I don’t think you could ever realize how much humility it takes to thank a huge corporation for a 20-25 cents an hour yearly after receiving excellent or E’s on your yearly review.

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Stressful

I have worked for home depot for a year. And it was the worst place i have worked. The pay is absolute garbage its sad that right next door the chick fil a pays the employees the same as a supervisor at Home Depot. I worked in the the delivery department and the managers would always make us go against company policy just so they could make customers happy regardless if it put our health at risk. For example making us unload 3 full pallets of 80lb concrete by hand. Or being told i have to go inside a customers house to drop off or pick something up even though we are not allowed due to if we get injured home depot is not held responsible...

After serving 8 yrs as a medic in the navy it takes a lot to stress me out. But working there was the most stress full place i have worked.

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Boys club

I worked 14 years at Depot.

In the beginning it was a boys club. Women rarely advanced and only to “girl” positions. Like they could be in charge of blinds but not hardware or building materials. I once walked out of a staff meeting when the talk turned to putting female employees in bikinis so we could sell hot tubs.

They frequently cut staff in order to not pay benefits. So they limit the amount of full time workers and use seasonal and part time. Part time being 31 hours and you had to have open availability,making it hard to work another job

As new managers came in the purge of long time , higher paid workers would begin . Depot use to brag that they hired the best. With minimum wage and no benefits they just hired anyone who walked in the door

There was zero union talk. They would fire you for that.

Anti union

Currently employed at Home Depot. I retired in 2013 as a executive with a major corporation. Got a job with HD in 2014 just to have something to do working part time. I would say 25% of the staff are retired at my store... When I first started with HD I spent almost a month online training the second class I had was on unions recruiting in store. HD policy is immediate termination if you get involved with any union activity. I can see why HD is so anti union because what they have done on their hourly salary would result in the union fighting back.

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How those surveys happen

I worked for Home Depot for 10 years... The only thing I miss is the people. I created great friendships and one of those helped me find my current job. The job and the company is terrible. Their Voice of the Associate scores [an internal survey that “helps determine how emotionally connected our associates are to their jobs, their leaders and The Home Depot”] are always terrible or completely fabricated. I sat in a meeting on how to coach associates on how to take the survey and make everything seem great. I hated that meeting. “Neutral is bad” meaning anything less than 4 you weren’t supposed to pick. People were afraid to lose their jobs if the survey came back bad. The manager threatened us that it would be our jobs lost if the survey came back bad.

The food pantry

Working at home Depot for 5 years. Will be leaving shortly. Home Depot has a food pantry for for employees that do not make enough to feed themselves. Wow, they boast about the food pantry and helping employees. To me it says, we don’t pay you enough to put food on your table. I really can’t afford to shop here. If they would pay us more, then employees ( we get no discounts) would be able to shop here and in turn, the store would get more sales. We do get success sharing based on or store sales plan. I work in one of the larger stores. We have almost 100 Mill in sales and employees will get around $200. They keep stressing for us to approach customers and convince them that they should open a home Depot credit card. As a part timer, I am suppose to get 1 credit card a week. Rates are in the 23 percent [range].

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Chaotic

It’s the only job I’ve ever had that you show up without knowing who you’re working with or having an idea of what’s going on that shift. You have to jump in and survey your department to have a clue of what’s going on because communication is lacking.

In my five years at HD, I roughly went from $10 to $11 an hour. My second year, I had a four hour February in which I came in for my half-shift on the ides of the month and didn’t return for another two plus weeks. Bizarre.

It can be very physical. I used to prep for my shifts by pre-medicating with topical analgesics and over the counter anti-inflammatories. I’d return home and use heat-wraps for back aches and spasms. You get tired after hours in steel-tipped boots. I learned that requirement the hard way when I broke my foot early in my tenure...

Having left- I miss the people. I do NOT miss the corporate mentality. People ask why the country never seems to improve? My thoughts are we have to stop lying to ourselves and being phony. People just want an honest shot at a good living. This isn’t translating- this is not the American Dream. This is systematic proletarianism in our predatory capitalist society.

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Worse than being robbed

I’ve worked for THD for almost three years and so far to date have received two increases in pay (total of 75 cents ) to my starting base pay ($9.00)with another increase of a dollar(to keep pace with other retailers’ starting pay) to $10.75. They’ve recently raised starting salary another dollar ($11.00) for new hires and THAT’S THE RATE I’M AT NOW - $11.00!!! The same rate after THREE FRICKIN’ years as a new hire/ novice gets starting TODAY!! I even asked an assistant manager after hearing about the increase to $11.00 if that meant I would go to $11.75 and he replied “yes, I believe so.” SO in a nutshell I’ve actually had NO RAISE in almost THREE YEARS!! as the industry induced increases “count” as raises while my value to the company is not rewarded. This is the worst place I have ever worked and that includes 13 years of driving taxi in Philly where I was robbed first by a young man with a gun and by a second robber who cut me under my chin with a knife and I still LOVED that job!!!!

Thoughts from a veteran employee

I am a 20-year veteran of Home Depot. I started in 1985. I left for the second (and final) time in 2008. I haven’t read Langone’s book but I can pretty much tell from your synopsis that the period he remembers are the Glory Years, from about 1986 til 2000.

More than anything else what made the company so successful during those years was the dedication and hard work of what became 330,000 people. Until about 2000 you could safely work your ass off like that without fear that one day someone would come along and snip your job out from under you...

[By 2007] Langone, Bernie, and a lot of the others could not be hurt by the company’s stock performance even at $18 a share because they owned so damned much of it. And to this day it blinds them to the interior performance of the company itself. To its quasi-effective HR department, the continued practice of dumping payroll at a moment’s notice to shore up stock prices, and keeping most of the staff in stores part time or seasonal so it doesn’t have to pay full time wages or offer benefits. Then wondering why its turnover, like other retailers who do the same damned thing, is over 100% per year or there is no loyalty. Langone hasn’t gotten within 10 miles of those issues in close to 30 years. Yet those are exactly the issues that plague our entire working economy right now...

To answer the question in your story: how you feel about your work life at Home Depot depends upon where you were, who you worked for, what years you were doing it, and whether you left on your own or were payroll-dumped. We all probably have an equal number of great stories and horror stories. None of which would be known to Ken Langone.

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Thank you to all the Home Depot employees who have written in.