This morning, it was announced that Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils principle owner Josh Harris had decided to start cutting back the salaries and workloads of many of his franchises’ full-time employees.
The cut back was set to affect full-timers making at least $100,000. Those employees were also set to move to four-day work weeks. Previous reports stated that the cut off was actually as low as $50,000, but a Devils spokesperson said that was not the case in a statement to NJ Advance Media. Loss of work has become a huge issue across the country, especially impacting part-time and contract workers in a number of industries, as segments of the economy shut down amid the spread of coronavirus.
Obviously, that news didn’t sit well. As other teams have pledged to keep people, even those who work lower salary jobs at live games, on the payroll for the time being, Harris and the 76ers’ decision seemed particularly harsh. Plenty online quickly cited Harris’ $3.7 billion net worth. As NJ.com’s Randy Miller wrote, even a high estimation of savings of $1.85 million from these cuts would be 0.25-percent of his net worth. A drop in the bucket for someone with that wealth.
It didn’t take long for the franchises to reverse course on the decision. Moments ago, Harris put out a statement walking back the decision. “After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision,” the statement reads. “We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries.”
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2020
The full statement from Josh Harris after the backlash, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20& pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. This is an extraordinary time in our world – unlike any most of us have ever lived through before – and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”
At least Harris admits to making the wrong call, rather than trying to play it off as a miscommunication or another similar excuse. Stil, it is hard to imagine reading the room this poorly.
Kudos to Joel Embiid, who pledged $500,000 to team workers, and others who reportedly spoke up and may have had a big impact here.