MarketWatch.com reported that Wells Fargo was the most profitable bank in 2013. While that is great for Wells Fargo as a company and for the substantial bonuses at the executive level, not much has been done for the average worker. One 30-year-old customer service employee, Tyler Oates, went straight to the source in an attempt to change that.
Oates thought the best way to make a difference for the average Joe who worked for Wells Fargo was to email the CEO, John Stumpf. Oates boldly asked for a $10,000 raise, not only for him, but also for some 300,000 other Wells Fargo employees. While some may criticize his unprofessional way of going about things, if you do not ask, you will not receive.
One of the most obvious problems here is income inequality. According to Bloomberg, Stumpf’s income last year is approximately 470 times that of the average Wells Fargo employee, to a total of $19.3 million. Taking a look at it from a broader perspective, the total profit for Wells Fargo in 2013 was $20.9 billion. If Oates’s wishes were granted for all 300,000 employees, it would be about $3 billion, or about a $4.71-an-hour raise for each employee. That would still leave the company with $17.9 billion in profits.
You may think that $17.9 billion is a lot. However, companies are known to want to maximize their profits. Chris Brandt, a Fordham communications professor who currently teaches a course on peace, justice and the media stated, “greed is built into the very nature of a corporation. It is legally bound to make a profit, and by extension, to keep increasing that profit. To keep growing. So it reaches for more — always. Has there ever been a corporation that said, “that’s enough, we don’t need to get any bigger?’”
So, how do you make this idea of equality into a reality when corporations are so fixed on maximizing profit?
Of course, it is not common to email the CEO of any company to get a raise. However, how could getting a raise of that magnitude for around 300,000 employees be possible otherwi se? It is necessary for people to think outside of the box, like Oates, in order to achieve something that is often regarded as unattainable. Even though some may say it is the wrong way to ask, what makes it so wrong? Is it wrong because no one is courageous enough to do it? Is it wrong because middle class people are content with what is given to them rather than demanding what they deserve?
Katie Gaffney, FCRH ’16, said, “Do I think he is wrong for asking the CEO? No. Would I do the same thing? Probably not. I wouldn’t email the CEO of my company, not because it is not the right thing to do; rather, I would fear the downside too much of potentially losing my job. ”
Luckily enough, Oates’ manager claimed he was not in trouble and is still employed at Wells Fargo. Oates has also received many thank-you emails from fellow employees, but nothing yet from Stumpf.
All in all, fear is often what holds us back. People who are fearless should not be frowned upon, but should rather be congratulated. Whether you agree or disagree with me about how Oates went about approaching the CEO of Wells Fargo, it is virtually impossible to not admire his desire to slightly change a corrupted system in his own unique way.
Cody Sims, FCRH ’15, is a communication and media studies major from Oakland, California.
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