Everyone seems to be gushing these days over Dan Price, the CEO who says he will slash his own salary and raise his company’s minimum pay to $70,000. I, for one, am not gushing. Leaving aside the details – such as he “plans” to do this (always a bad sign) and that it is supposed to happen over the next three years; not now, and that he will still personally pocket the $2,000,000 plus in profits generated by the workers – so he can well afford to slash his pay – I still think it is positively feudal to bring Noblesse Oblige into the work place. Workers deserve fair pay and not just because of “the kindness of strangers.” Unionize and force the CEO, for whom YOU do all the work, to treat you with respect and provide a fair compensation for the job. Not as a gift. As your contractual right. Worker Rights are not subject some CEO’s goddamn whim. Price, he says, read a book saying that people who make less than 70K are happier when they get more money. That was then. What if next month Price reads a book saying that more competition over less pay is even better? It is possible, when a man makes decisions on what book he just finished reading. Let him read a book by Scott Walker and see what he does after that… you may not like it one damn bit.
What one man gives, another can take from you
So what happens when, say, the generous Mr. Price retires on a whim, after reading a travel book, and turns the store over to a brother or sister or brother-in-law? What then? Suppose the new Head of the Castle has different ideas? What do you do when he slashes compensation? That is a definite risk when workers toss aside any notion of job-security in favor of having a Tsar who dispenses goodies depending on his personal feelings at the time.
No, this is not right. It makes for warm and fuzzy reading – but a union which represents the staff will do better. Better because pay will be codified in a contract and not just pulled out of the air. Note the language in the widely circulated meme: Price is GIVING this money to workers, not that they EARNED it. It is his GIFT. (And he had no “minimum wage” workers, BTW. His workers were pulling in around $40,000. So this is a hefty raise, but does nothing concerning “minimum wage” as the meme implies. Nydelis Ortiz, a 25-year old underwriter working there a scant 3 months, was one of the lowest paid people in the company. She was paid $36,000 a year.)
America boasts of democracy and tries to force it on the whole world. But is there democracy in the workplace? No. And what price did is still not democratic. This whole idea of joy because one CEO decided to reward his workers is a Plantation Mentality. What next? Will Price buy the workers banjoes so they can strum away at the desk? “I have HAPPY workers, cause I GIVE them things!” What Price has done is thoroughly demeaning.
People like Price need to know this: If a person is worth his or her labor, then they are worth their keep. A gift from a benevolent dictator is crap. Workers are the backbone of any business and they should not have crumbs tossed at them like pigeons in the park by a “loving” keeper. If you as a worker are worth $70,000 a year then you deserve it because you earned it. Not because some publicity-hungry corporate twit thinks THIS WEEK that it is a good idea. If your work is worth $70,000 today, then why was he paying you $40,000 yesterday? By his very act of “generosity” Mr. Price admits that he has been underpaying you. Still see this as warm and fuzzy?
If I worked for Mr. Price, I would start sending out résumés and do so damn fast. This CEO is unpredictable and my bills each month are not. What we need, rather than highly publicized gifts to workers, is a law limiting CEO compensation to a reasonable multiple of the lowest paid in a company. This works wonders in Germany – where workers even have a mandated place on the Board of Directors. And that is just Germany. CEO compensation is out of control here, compared to the rest of the world. Yet when and workers seek to unionize and democratically level the playing field, America responds with allegations of THUGS and “Right To Work Laws” that shove democracy out the window.
Your work is not a play-thing for someone to dole out goodies based on a whim. Workers deserve better than this.