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Wells Fargo’s fail: employee publicly asks for raise and bank quotes T’s & C’s

There’s a great email leaked to the world just 13 days ago on Reddit.

The email is from a Wells Fargo employee to CEO John Stumpf, and reads as follows:

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,

It’s an interesting email, sent to Mr. Stumpf by one Tyrel Oates, a 30 year old Oregon branch employee.

Tyrel Oates

Facebook pic courtesy of Tyrel Oates 

The email is well written, obviously with tremendous thought and consideration, and based upon the inequality of the 1% who own half the world’s wealth  – of which Mr. Stumpf is one – and the 99% who think that is not fair.

The public response to this email by Wells Fargo is the usual corporate guff:

“Wells Fargo values and supports its team members. This is why we provide market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities for team members. Team members receive an annual performance and salary review. And all of our team members’ compensation levels exceed the federal minimum.”

I’m surprised they didn’t add that Mr. Tyrel Oates, the author of the email who earns $15 an hour, up from $13 in 2007, has left the company “for personal reasons to pursue an alternative career and spend more time with his family”.

This was the common commentary on the Reddit post:

Some former Wells Fargo employee…

Got massively sacked.

Some then argued that he had put Wells Fargo in a difficult position:

There are undoubtedly going to be people reading this thinking “lol his ass is fired”.  Ask yourself, why would they sack him? He could sue for unfair dismissal very easily. All he did was make a simple request of upper management.

Talking to people politely cannot get you fired.

If they fire him his argument gains validity. They will probably cite some non-disclosure something or other and try to stamp this story out before it gets too big. -3 billion is not happening.

Whilst others refuted such views:

They have lawyers and HR people who will scour their rules and regulations and find SOMETHING that he did wrong. This is a very Jerry McGuire type of action, but I fear it is a forlorn hope.

On other sites, the conversation is slightly different.  For example, on ABC News there is the usual open debate amongst the American voting audience.

The Democrats

‘“And all of our team members’ compensation levels exceed the federal minimum.” The federal minimum is below poverty level.’

‘Sounds to me that the statement from Wells Fargo means… they are perfectly content with the salary they offer, and were not moved by this email in the least. The executives will go on reaping the rewards of the menial worker bees, and think nothing of it. I agree with Mr. Oates… that corporate America’s view of the value of their workers lies only in what other companies are willing to offer them. That is a sad reality, and doesn’t leave much hope or ambition for the American worker. But company execs better pay attention. In the long run, you get what you pay for. They may find that the wheels that drive their almighty machines may slow down a bit. Wheels that don’t get any grease rust and freeze up!!’

‘The Wells Fargo response in other words… “*** you.”’

The Republicans

‘Spoken like a true socialist….comrade.’

‘If you don’t like what you make at work, get a different job. If you lack skills or education to get a different job, then improve your skills and education.’

‘“Hi I want free money. I don’t have a degree like you do, Boss, but it ain’t fair that I haves to gets up in the mourning an scrinp n save. Pleas gives me and my freinds free money thank you. Why do u have more money than me. Everyone should have the same amount of money no matter how long i went to school or what our skills are. Thank you. All of us should have the same incomes because you have more moneys than me” Ugh. Idiot. I hope that waste of skin was fired.’

There’s a bunch of other discussions out there, such as:

Yahoo Finance: Bank employee emails boss – and 20,000 colleagues – asking for a $10,000 pay rise 

Quartz: The Wells Fargo worker who asked for a pay raise shows the limits of going it alone  

Star Tribune: Wells Fargo missed mark after worker requested $10,000 raises for all 

And apparently Mr. Oates has not lost his job but his email has publicly humiliated Wells Fargo:

(a)    by the lack of direct response by Mr. Stumpf;

(b)   by the stupidity of quoting terms and conditions as their reaction;

(c)    by not taking any direct note or comment to Mr. Oates’s email; and

(d)   by allowing the public debate to view the bank critically.

Perhaps most telling, for example, is this comment from Josh Billingsley:

“Wells Fargo values and supports its team members. This is why we provide market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities for team members. Team members receive an annual performance and salary review. And all of our team members’ compensation levels exceed the federal minimum.”

Why you gotta lie though Wells Fargo? This is not true. I worked for Wells Fargo for two years in the Fraud Department and the annual performance and salary review is garbage. I performed better than most people in my department and they would always find very miniscule and personal things that weren’t related to your job performance to determine whether you actually get that raise. They use a performa-compa ratio which combines your performance and then separately compares you to the amount you get in comparison with the amount people of your same job title get. If what you get averages at all any higher than the others, they will also not provide that raise. Wells Fargo may be a decent bank to work for, but at the end of the day, they’re trying to pay you the least for as much responsibility as you’ll take on. I started at $14.22 at Wells Fargo doing fraud investigation, and after working there over 2 years I was only making $14.47, and they added on 4 roles that I was additionally responsible for in my tenure there. Now I work for Amazon doing fraud for $28.80 hourly. What does that tell you about their ‘competitiveness’?

To all of my friends in Wells, especially those in marketing, a great opportunity lost. 

To Mr. Oates, nice try. 

And to all the banks out there: above minimum wage doesn’t show you care.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Rick huckstep

    Great blog today! The irony is that when a large corporate hits troubled times, the first thing it does is penalise staff and cut back on pay, whether that is to stop annual salary increases, cut bonuses, or even reduce salary by upto 20%. The troubled corporate then calls for greater effort from the staff to “make this company great again!”.
    This should be a two way street!
    In today’s social and digital world, with a growing shift towards the Be My Own Boss mindset, the successful companies will be those that radically change their attitudes and policies towards its employees.
    20th century management styles will not succeed in the 21st century.