Portland, Oregon-based Wells Fargo branch employee Tyrel Oates showed some real guts last week when he emailed the bank’s CEO asking for a $US10,000 raise for himself and his colleagues and then CC’ing 200,000 employees. (The full letter is below.)
Oates, 30, told Business Insider that he’s not worried about losing his job.
The positive has far outweighed the negative. So far, he’s only received two negative responses.
Oates also told us why he sent the letter and why he CC’d 200,000 Wells Fargo employees.
Here’s our Q&A.
BI: What responsibility do you think the CEO of Wells Fargo has to address inequality?
TO: As the leader of a multi-billion dollar company, he is in a position to create major change in the practices of how income is distributed.
BI: Why do you think you’re underpaid? Can you explain why you think you deserve more money?
TO: Companies try to say they offer competitive salaries, but this is only because they understand that since Company A pays this much for a job that Companies B, and C only need to pay as much as well. The vast majority of Americans are underpaid in relation to the income their companies bring in, profits skyrocket, while wages/salaries remain stagnant.
BI: Can you explain your job? What do you do in a typical day? How many hours do you work? etc.
TO: I work Monday – Friday 40 hours a week and overtime as needed processing cease and desist requests. Without the role the company would be at risk for FDCPA violations opening themselves up to thousands of dollars law suits each day, if we were to continue to attempt direct collections communications with our customer.
BI: What do your colleagues think of the letter? Have you received a lot of support? Have you received any criticism?
TO: Out of the hundreds of replies I’ve received from colleagues supporting my actions and ideas, I’ve only received two negative replies.
BI: What are your thoughts on Wall Street and the banking industry?
TO: Wall Street and the banking industry have both the power and influence to create a lot progressive action in fighting income inequality.
BI: Are you worried about losing your job?
TO: I’m not worried about losing my job.
BI: How did you CC 200,000 people?
TO: 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.
BI: What do you want to do in the long-term for you career?
TO: I’m going to college to obtain a degree in computer science, and hope to start my own IT company someday.
Here’s the full letter Oates sent to 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 $US5.7 billion, and total revenue of $US21.1 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 $US19 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 $US2.8 million and bonuses equating to $US4 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 $US3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $US10,000 dollars. This equates to an hourly raise about $US4.71 per hour. Think, as well, of the positive publicity in a time of extreme consumer scepticism 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 endeavours.
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,