Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf vs. Tyrel Oates on Income Inequality

Income inequality is a passionate topic in America. With the minimum wage hike debate heating up, a Wells Fargo employee emails the CEO for change.




Tyrel Oates, a former employee of Wells Fargo who processed requests from customers that debt cancellation calls be stopped, made headlines on income inequality.

He emailed the CEO, John Stumpf, along with 200,000 of his co-workers requesting a $10,000 raise across the board.

He made some very interesting points that seemed to lay out his argument quite well.

Here’s an excerpt:

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.

He went on to ask for a $4.71 hourly rate increase across the board giving every employee an extra $10,000 in yearly income from the company.

What John Stumpf Has Earned As CEO of Wells Fargo:

In order to find out how much a CEO of any U.S. company is taking home, all one has to do is look for proxy statements which can be downloaded from a company’s website or the SEC website.




Here are John Stumpf’s earnings:

Strength in Numbers:

He also gave a stirring P.S. message to the thousands of colleagues at Wells Fargo in hopes of encouraging a more united stance against income inequality:

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,

Wells Fargo
Mike Mozart/Flickr

Wells Fargo Responds:

In response to Tyrel’s email, the company gave a statement that defended their compensation policy:

We pride ourselves on creating a great place to work for our team members, including market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities.

They also mentioned how they offer career growth opportunities for those who are unsatisfied with their level of pay:

Team members have opportunities for salary increases as part of the annual review process, ongoing adjustments based on market surveys, and promotional opportunities. Last year, in addition to increases that resulted from annual salary reviews, 45,000 promotional salary increases for team members were completed.

John Shrewsberry, Wells Fargo’s Chief Financial Officer, responded to questions concerning Tyrel Oates and the email sent to the CEO. A partial snippet of the interview can be found below:

Wells Fargo Updates Their Communication Policy:

Due to a communication policy change, Tyrel was ultimately prevented from responding to their statement.




He still, however, wrote a new letter where he expressed dissatisfaction with the companies reaction. He complained that “the only responses that have been provided thus far is the bank simply defending its compensation philosophy (with no attempt at compromise), as well as limiting who we can and cannot email within the organization. These are not acceptable responses,

A Petition is Created:

An online petition was created with close to 5,000 individuals (Wells Fargo customers and employees) supporting Tyrel’s stance on wage increases.

Tyrel ultimately quit his job to focus on his education in agriculture. However, he gave a final thought in his last email that was meant to inspire his former fellow co-workers in this fight against income inequality:

Many of us feel that we are grossly undercompensated for the work that we do, but it is our chosen ignorance that keeps from us what is rightfully owed.

To my fellow employees: it’s time we stop accepting pittance, and yearn to succeed. Ask yourself, why is it that our CEO deserves more while we continuously receive less, yet do all of the work that keeps this vessel buoyant?

I have done all that I can to help get this ball rolling, it is now up to each of you to stand up and speak out. In order to move this mountain, it will take all of our combined voices and not just my solemn whispers.

It is time that we set our misplaced fears aside, because as a close friend once told me, “If you truly want to create change in the world, you must be the change that you want to see.” For eight hours a day, Wells Fargo is our world.

With today, April 3rd being my last day, the ball is in your court and it’s time to start making some plays. The choice is yours… To quote the great Edward R. Murrow, “Good night, and good luck.”

  • Read the full email response here and the P.S. section here.

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