Bank worker request for raise falls on deaf ears

Last year, Wells Fargo pulled in $5.7 billion in revenue, so an employee thought some of the worker bees should get a bigger share of that.

The brouhaha that resulted started when Tyrel Oates, 30, sent an email to CEO John Stumpf suggesting that the bank give each employee a $10,000 raise, showing “the rest of the United States, if not the world, that, yes, big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.”

He CC’d 200,000 employees and apparently still has his job.

Mr. Stumpf,

With the increasing focus on income inequality in the United States. Wells Fargo has an opportunity to be at the forefront of helping to reduce this by setting the bar, leading by example, and showing the other large corporations that it is very possible to maintain a profitable company that not only looks out for its consumers and shareholders, but its employees as well.

This year Wells Fargo in its second quarter alone had a net income of $5.7 billion, and total revenue of $21.1 billion. These are very impressive numbers, and is obvious evidence that Wells Fargo is one of, if not the most profitable company in the nation right now. So, why not take some of this and distribute it to the rest of the employees.

Sure, the company provides while not great, some pretty good benefits, as well as discretionary profit sharing for those who partake in our 401k program. While the benefits are nice, the profit sharing through the 401k only goes to make the company itself and its shareholders more profitable, and not really boost the income of the thousands of us here every day making this company the prestigious power house that it is.

Last year, you had pulled in over $19 million, more than most of the employees will see in our lifetimes. It is understood that your position carries a lot of weight and responsibility; however, with a base salary of $2.8 million and bonuses equating to $4 million, is alone one of the main arguments of income inequality. Where the vast majority, the undeniable profit drivers, with the exception of upper management positions barely make enough to live comfortably on their own, the distribution of income in this company is no better than that of the other big players in the corporate world.

My estimate is that Wells Fargo has roughly around 300,000 employees. My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars. This equates to an hourly raise about $4.71 per hour. Think, as well, of the positive publicity in a time of extreme consumer skepticism towards banks. By doing this, Wells Fargo will not only help to make its people, its family, more happy, productive, and financially stable, it will also show the rest of the United States, if not the world that, yes big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.

P.S. – To all of my fellow team members who receive a copy of this email. Though Wells Fargo does not allow the formation of unions, this does not mean we cannot stand united. Each and every one of us plays an integral part in the success of this company. It is time that we ask, no, it is time that we demand to be rightfully compensated for the hard work that we accomplish, and for the great part we all have played in the success of this company. There are many of us out there who come to work every day and give it our all, yet, we struggle to make ends meet while our peers in upper management and company executives reap the majority of the rewards. One of our lowest scored TMCS questions is that our opinions matter. Well they do! This email has been sent to hundreds of thousands Wells Fargo employees, (as many as I could cc from the outlook global address book). And while the voice of one person in a world as large as ours may seem only like a whisper, the combined voices of each and all of us can move mountains!

With the warmest of regards,

“I spent my break and lunch times over the course of two weeks, composing 11 separate emails to CC everyone. I CC’d as many group distribution lists as I could find, and then started CC-ing individual people starting with the A’s and worked my way down the list,” he told Yahoo Finance.

Yesterday, Wells Fargo sent its chief financial officer on to CNBC to defend the company’s pay and benefits, but John Shrewsberry refused to answer the question about what the reaction in the executive suites was. “It would be unfair to him,” Shrewsberry said of Oates, as if he would mind.

He said employee surveys show Wells Fargo employees are fine with the way things are.

In his business column in today’s Star Tribune, columnist Lee Schafer says Wells Fargo blew the response:

Wells Fargo is in the business of helping people manage their money to live better lives. And it can’t think of anything better to say to a plea for fair pay than that it pays market-based wages that exceed federal minimum wage?

“That robotic response … to say ‘Well, we pay market rates with market-rate benefits,’ it’s just very disappointing,” said Teresa Daly, co-founder of executive leadership consultants Navigate Forward in Minneapolis. “Total, complete, missed opportunity.”

As Daly pointed out, one company can’t single-handedly fix middle-class wage stagnation. But with a little thinking, Wells Fargo could have come up with ideas that showed, both inside and outside the company, that its leaders wanted to work on the problem.

Oates said he’s not afraid of losing his job, for which he makes $15 an hour.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Well, I give them some credit for not firing Stumpf. A similar incident happen at a place I worked (not my current employer), when a employee accidently sent an email that contained a slightly disparaging nickname for the CEO to the entire organization, including the CEO. Not only did he keep his job, he was promoted to a top position a few years later.

  • Jim G

    I hope the Daily Circuit is working on a segment about disproportional pay in our US corporations.

  • jon

    The best correct answer (shy of actually giving every one a raise) would have been something more along the lines of “While we’ve had several good years, it would be unwise to take a one time annual profit and turn it into a reoccurring annual cost.”

    And maybe then hand out a bonus for all employees.

  • Dave

    “Wells Fargo is in the business of helping people manage their money to live better lives.”

    I got a chuckle from that one. Wells Fargo is in the business of making money. Full stop.

    • jon

      I’m guessing (hoping?) there was an early draft that read:
      “Wells Fargo is in the business of hiring people to make managers money to live better lives.”

  • Rich in Duluth

    I think it needs to be said that Wells Fargo, like the vast majority of businesses, is in business to make money for their stock holders. That means minimizing expenses and maximizing profits. Oil companies are not in business to produce oil, auto companies are not in business to produce safe, reliable cars, airlines are not in business to provide reliable, comfortable travel, and banks are not in business to provide a service to customers.

    The only things that will keep wages, benefits, and working conditions fair are strong unions and Federal/State regulations. The worker has nothing else on his side. We need big government to offset the “interests” of big business.

    • dpsours

      Not likely to happen with big government in the pocket of big business.

  • David

    This comment goes around every time my Fortune 50 employer (not WF) reports quarterly earnings.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Considering what it could have said to an employee asking for an astronomical across-the-board increase for every employee regardless of performance, I’m not going to fault the bank’s response.

    I get a little eyerolly when an organization of any kind gets called out for allegedly not having the pitch-perfect response to something. Usually that’s done by people blind to the totality of concerns faced when responding.

  • tboom

    At $15 / hr. translates to what, $31,000 / yr.?

    Tyrel isn’t living a very lavish lifestyle. I’d have thought even the lowest paid workers in a large corporation like Wells Fargo would be making substantially more. (I wouldn’t be afraid to lose a $31,000 job either, even if I loved every moment of the work.)