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CEO who Fox News called ‘socialist’ for $70k minimum wage says company’s workforce has doubled

Graig Graziosi
·3-min read
Dan Price - voted most generous boss after he cut his own salary by 90% so his employees could receive more (http://gravitypayments.com/)
Dan Price - voted most generous boss after he cut his own salary by 90% so his employees could receive more (http://gravitypayments.com/)

CEO Dan Price announced six years that he planned to raise the minimum annual salary of employees at his company to $70,000.

In order to do that, he had to cut into his own $1.1m pay package.

Mr Price said in interviews that he chose to raise the salaries of his workers after discovering one of his employees had been secretly working a second job at McDonald's to live.

"It was clear I was an awful CEO who was failing his employees. I gave her a raise to quit that job. No one should have to work two jobs to make ends meet," Mr Price said.

The unprecedented move drew mockery and scorn from "pro-business" conservative voices like Fox News pundits and "Dirty Jobs" actor Mike Rowe, who tried to smear the decision as an act of "socialism."

On Fox Business, presenter Stuart Varney called Mr Price the "lunatic of all lunatics."

Rush Limbaugh, who ran the most popular conservative radio show in the country, called it "pure, unadulterated socialism" and said he hoped "this company is a case study in MBA programs on how socialism does not work, because it's going to fail."

It is unclear why Mr Price choosing to run his business how he wishes constitutes socialism. Under a socialist management of the business, Mr Price's workers would have some control over what their company produces, how they price and distribute it, and have a say in setting their pays.

Mr Price said he does not think those who criticised him cared about his company or his workers, but rather were threatened by the disruption his move caused to the narratives that are used to justify exorbitant CEO pay.

"I did this as a private business owner. It affected no one but myself (I cut my salary from $1.1M to $70k) - the definition of private enterprise. But what I did was very threatening to them because it disrupts the narrative of 'CEOs must be paid 1,000x more than their employees,'" he wrote.

Despite the bad-faith predictions from conservatives that his company would fail and his employees would be out of work thanks to his reckless flirting with socialism, Mr Price appears to have proven that the most "pro-business" move a company can make is treating its employees well paying them fairly.

In the wake of his decision to raise his employees' minimum salaries, his company - which processes credit card payments - appears to have flourished. When he started his initiative, his company was processing payments worth $3bn. Today, it is processing $10bn worth of payments.

The company has expanded from a 130-person location in Seattle to a second location in Boise, Idaho. According to Mr Price, 76 per cent of his employees are engaged while they're at work, which is twice the national average, and the number of people he was able to hire grew by 70 per cent.

Ten times more employees are having children and buying homes than before he adjusted their pay, and 70 per cent of his employees reported they were able to pay down on their debts.

A report by Inc. found that the company's number of employees doubled.

Ultimately, Mr Limbaugh got his wish, though perhaps not how he envisioned it; today, the company is used as a case study by Harvard Business School.

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