BUSINESS
10/09/2014 04:35 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2014

Wells Fargo Employee Calls Out CEO's Pay, Requests Company-Wide Raise In Brave Email

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When most employees want a raise, they schedule a meeting with their supervisor or reach out to human resources.

A Wells Fargo employee took a markedly different approach: He emailed the CEO -- along with 200,000 co-workers -- asking for a $10,000 raise for everyone in the company.

In his letter, Tyrel Oates, a customer relations worker who makes $15 per hour at the bank in Oregon, argues that Wells Fargo should set a national example as a corporation addressing income inequality.

"Wells Fargo has an opportunity to be at the forefront ... 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," wrote Oates. A copy of the letter was posted to Reddit, and The Huffington Post independently confirmed its authenticity.

He wrote that Wells Fargo itself could benefit from the "positive publicity in a time of extreme consumer skepticism towards banks." Oates, an employee with the company for seven years, acknowledges that Wells Fargo has decent pay and benefits, yet the gulf between most employees and upper management remains enormous.

"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," he writes.

CEO John Stumpf makes 473 times more than the salary of a median employee, according to Bloomberg. That ratio of CEO-to-employee pay puts Wells Fargo at No. 33 among S&P 500 companies and third highest among financial institutions on the list. He earned $19.3 million in total compensation last year.

Oates told the Charlotte Observer that he has received many emails from co-workers praising and thanking him for his letter. He also said he is still employed and has no fears about possibly losing his job. He was told by his supervisor that he's not at risk of losing his job, but Stumpf has not responded to his letter, according to the Charlotte Observer.

When contacted by The Huffington Post, Wells Fargo said it would not discuss personnel issues, but gave this statement: "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 significantly exceed federal minimums."

The full text of Oates' letter is included below. (Bold has been added for emphasis.)

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,

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