Whatever happened to the company that decided to pay all of its employees a $70K minimum wage?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/24/whatever-happened-to-the-company-that-decided-to-pay-all-of-its-employees-a-70k-minimum-wage.html


Normally I’d be skeptical of such claims (although I was intrigued and impressed by the original news of the 70k salary, years ago).


The huge retention and moderate sacrifice is indicative of the fact that even the financial people thought this was a fair deal.

Think on that: sacrifice was asked for (and had to made, tbh, what with the declining revenue) and everyone was on board and stayed. Including those who intimately know about the financials of the company (unless those where the few % who left … but that’s unlikely [if for no other reason that they would have told SOMEONE]).

IMO every department is almost equally needed: programmers/tech to create a product, sales to sell a product (which tech needs to create, or sales can’t sell), QA/helpdesk to ensure the product works/to ensure problems are found and repaired … any company which puts one department on a pedestal loses.


Imagine that – let workers become more financially invested in the company, and then they become more emotionally invested too!

Reminds me of Dr. Bronner’s soap company.

The company contributes millions to public causes, and regarding how its workers are treated:

Dr. Bronner’s activism doesn’t just benefit external parties. David and Michael have made their company a model of workplace equality. Employees’ health care is fully covered, and they can receive up to 25 percent of their salary as a bonus. In a country where the median CEO-to-worker pay ratio exceeds 300 to 1, David and Michael make roughly $200,000 a year. They’ve capped their salaries at five times that of their lowest-paid workers, who make a minimum wage of $18.71 an hour in a state, California, where the minimum wage for companies with 26 or more employees is $12 an hour. More than half of Dr. Bronner’s employees are women, and nearly 60 percent are people of color.


If you’re paid $70k/yr or more, you’re probably able to build up savings enough to weather a temporary downturn and not living paycheck to paycheck, thus everyone pitching in rather than viewing it as an existential threat.


The “job creators” are not happy, it’s trickle down or nothing with the 1%. Yeah, and that trickle is nothing but piss in the faces of the working class.


worker-owned co-ops have other problems, as it’s in the existing employees’ self-interest to “sell out” in various ways, subjecting future employees to multi-tier schemes or even liquidating the firm’s assets

this company is just regular capitalism but with a “good boss”


As long as neoliberalism remains the default economic philosophy nothing will change, whatever the facts supporting a change like this are. The sad thing is, 99% of the John Galt cultists will never see anything close to a 10th of the lifetime earnings of the tycoon gods they aspire to be (“onedayrealsoonnow”).


70K/yr might sound like a high salary in some parts of the country but I doubt you could live in Seattle city or suburbs making only 70K/yr. Same goes for Denver where people I know have to drive 30-40 miles out of town to afford the rents.


I live in a DC suburb where the county subsidizes housing for some teachers so that they can afford to live in the same county (maybe not zip code) as their students.


Live in Seattle, sure

Raise a family and put the kids through college there, that’s another question


And the ubiquitous soap bottles are a fun dose of wackadoo Christian crazy any time you decide to read the small print. Good soap, wacky small print.


In 2008 as the Great Recession was beginning, the CEO of Microchip Semiconductors called an all-hands meeting and announced that there would be no layoffs. Zero. Because demand was cratering, production workers would be put on rotating furloughs scheduled so that they could receive unemployment compensation. The people in R&D etc got 10% pay cuts top to bottom and nobody would get any bonuses (which were a sizable chunk of the compensation for the higher ranks.)

Another part of the employee compensation, top to bottom, was stock grants. These continued, with the amounts adjusted for the (dramatically) reduced stock valuation. IOW, if you were getting 10 shares a month at $40 a share, you got 25 shares a month at $16 per share.

A few people left on their own, no hard feelings all around.

A few months into the recovery, demand came back with a roar. MCHP’s competitors were scrambling to replace workers who had been laid off, but MCHP just called theirs back and were rolling. Development projects had continued uninterrupted, and MCHP scored a lot of business from its competitors both near and long term.

Topping it off, the company added back pay and bonuses although that wasn’t part of their original commitment.

Last I heard, the management had turned its “no layoffs, ever” policy into a long-term one. I probably should ask how they’re doing with Covid (yes, I was working for them in 2008. I’ve since retired, early, in part because my 401K came out of the Great Recession fat and healthy.)


In case you need further evidence of the degradation of humanity (which I’m not advocating for) look at the responses to anything Dan Price posts on LinkedIn. Capitalism’s got our species twisted.


I love worker-owned co-ops in theory, but then I look at the output of my once-beloved Harpoon Brewery since they went worker-owned and … yeah. Exactly what you’re saying. Mango beers and Dunkin Donuts-inspired beers are now the height of their innovation.


Keep in mind this is the company’s minimum wage. The lowest-paid role in this company is probably making at least twice the salary of someone in a similar role at another Seattle tech company.


There’s an excellent Futility Closet podcast episode (that I couldn’t find just now) from a few years back about a turn-of-the-century clothing manufacturer who operated his company much as the one in the OP. It sounded like a great place to work. But after the original owner died, it eventually faltered and went out of business. One has to wonder how much the force of personality – the “good boss” – is necessary to make this kind of business model work.



IIRC, the founder was Jewish and fled the Holocaust? Though maybe he converted. At any rate, although I think it does say “God,” the “All one!” idea is meant to be more all encompassing. Everything in the universe, really. Which may indeed be wackadoo.

Edit: I mean, I hope no one is avoiding their products just because they think they’d be supporting a “Christian” company, let alone one that proselytizes. AFAIK, it isn’t, and doesn’t.


Keep in mind that Jess Bezos has a yearly salary of $81k.
True wealth is not just accumulated on the basis of income.

Increasing the base salary of everyone is great, but also a business calculation on the part of the CEO.
Plus, he’s now known as “the $70k CEO” and is the posterchild for benevolent capitalism.


Fair enough. I know nothing about the company or the founder, just enjoy the wacky small print