hot topic letter


‘You cannot pay your workers in passion’: Hot Topic workers walk out, leave viral letter calling out low wages

'We cannot support ourselves and our families.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Nov 7, 2021   Updated on Nov 10, 2021, 10:58 am CST

viral tweet shows a pointed letter from workers at a Hot Topic in Minnesota, detailing employees walking out and closing their store while citing a lack of livable wages. 

After apparently staging a walkout and closing the store, located inside the Apache Mall in Rochester, workers left a message posted to the gate that articulated their issues. The printout stated: “Almost all of our staff [walked] out due to in the inability of the Hot Topic Company to support and give a living wage. We cannot support ourselves and our families. We have worked so hard and cannot do this any longer.

“You cannot pay your workers in passion. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

On Saturday, ABC 6 in Rochester talked to a former employee and current employee of Hot Topic about the walkout and viral message.

“We’re getting just an outpour, an insane outpour of international support,” said Elle Driskell Felts and Sarah Sailors in a joint message. “It’s all across the world; basically, it’s insane. And we really appreciate it; it means the absolute world to us, especially those of us who had especially hard times.”

Driskell Felts, who’s serving as the group spokesperson and was once a manager before quitting last year, told the Post-Bulletin that the walkout wasn’t premeditated, but a result of built-up of issues coming to head.

“The major issue was the pay was absolutely nowhere for what was expected of us,” she said. “It’s not OK that people in management were working as close to full-time as they were allowed by the company and still having to choose every month between paying a bill or getting groceries. That’s just not OK.”

Employees at the Hot Topic in Apache Mall furnished a new statement to ABC 6 News. It stated: “Hot Topic, on the outside, looks like a progressive and well-put-together career for employees like us. The pandemic opened our eyes to how clearly horrible the conditions were for our staff.

“For those struggling to get food on the table and working yourself to the bone to be able to have a home to come back to, now is your chance to fight for the respect and right to a living wage.”

This is the latest example of employees walking out of the workplace to protest low wages and subpar working conditions. On Nov. 3, the Daily Dot reported on a Kentucky Chipotle that saw half its staff walk out after they were pushed “to the brink.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Hot Topic’s parent company, Sycamore Partners, for comment.

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*First Published: Nov 7, 2021, 1:31 pm CST