America's 'Nicest Boss' Falls on Hard Times

Published: 03rd August 2015 01:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2015 01:52 PM   |  A+A-

The chief executive of a credit card company is counting the cost of his decision to set a minimum wage of $70,000 (pounds 45,000) for all his 120 employees.

Dan Price, who slashed his annual $1?million pay package to help fund his altruistic gesture and was hailed as the "world's nicest boss", has been forced to rent out his own home to make ends meet.

The issue of poverty pay is a sensitive one in the US and some states are already setting higher rates than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 (pounds 4.64) an hour.

But Mr Price went considerably further after hearing of the problems faced by one friend who said she was struggling to survive on $40,000 a year, which was rather more than he was paying his staff in Seattle.

His decision to increase their pay at the cost of his own gained him global attention and a fair measure of scorn from conservative commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh.

When Mr Price announced the move to staff, it was greeted by enthusiastic applause.

But the honeymoon did not last long. Some clients objected to the "socialist" gesture and withdrew their business from his company, Gravity Payments.

Two valued members of staff resigned in protest at the decision not to increase their pay and maintain some sort of differential among employees.

Mr Price said: "I'm working as hard as I ever worked to make it work. There's no perfect way to do this and no way to handle complex workplace issues that doesn't have any downsides or trade-offs."

Pay and jobs are important issues in the presidential election campaign. Hillary Clinton is supporting a $12-an-hour minimum wage, while Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist senator and her strongest rival, is calling for the current $7.25 to be raised to $15.

On the Republican side Donald Trump is in favour of the current minimum wage and opposes any increase, while Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, described the minimum wage policy as "lame".

Ted Cruz also opposes the minimum wage, while Jeb Bush says it should be left to individual states to decide.


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