Did the New York Times Really Need to Let Jamie Dimon Crow About the Measly Raise He Is Granting Employees?

Yves here. The raft of articles correctly pooh-poohing Jamie Dimon’s use of an increase in wages for JP Morgan’s low-end workers as if he were an enlightened manager still wind up vastly understating the gap between the bank CEO and his underlings. They mention that his pay last year was $27 million. That is minuscule compared to his net worth of $1.1 billion.

By Elizabeth Preza, an AlterNet staff writer focusing on politics, media and cultural criticism. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms. Originally published at Alternet

Tuesday, Jamie Dimon—the billionaire president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase who in 2012 misled investors and regulators after losing $6.2 billion through derivatives betting—was provided prime real estate in the New York Times to tout his monstrous bank’s recent decision to raise his employee’s minimum wage by all of $1.85, spread out over a three-year period.

“A pay increase is the right thing to do,” Dimon writes before launching into a finger-wagging monologue about how “every business can do its part through whatever ways work best for it and its community.”

Dimon, who New York Magazine reports earned $27 million last year, may have received a round of applause from the Internet for his oh-so-generous decision to raise the minimum wage for his company’s lowest-paid employees by half a cup of coffee. But the increase is really just a PR talking point for the largest bank in America, bolstered by a leading and self-congratulatory op-ed in the Times—as if the largest bank in American needs the column inches to promote its brand.

Wages have been on the rise this year; a February article in the Times reveals that falling unemployment and a hiring boom in recent years has finally resulted in wage increases, “a sign the job market could be tightening enough to force companies to pay more to attract and retain employees.

Which of course is what’s happening to JPMorgan. But please, New York Times, give this billionaire one-percenter ample opportunity to float his altruistic “rich people can save the world” mantra, which he does splendidly and without a hint of irony:

“America has been dealt an extraordinary hand, and I am optimistic about our future. Our universities are second to none. We have many of the best businesses on the planet — small, medium and large. Americans are among the most entrepreneurial and innovative people in the world, from those who work in entry-level jobs on the factory floor to Bill Gates. We have a reliable system of law, extremely low corruption and a hugely resilient and self-correcting democracy.”

Yes, America is awesome. But it’s pretty head-in-the-sand of Dimon to insist businesses are the ones pushing for a higher minimum wage as opposed to, oh, I don’t know—the workers themselves. The National Retail Federation and the National Federation of Independent Business were among the associations lobbying Congress to reject the proposal for a $10.10 minimum wage back in 2014. And any notion that pay increases today are the result of a corporate CEO’s Kumbaya moment—as opposed to the practical thing for a business to do if they want to retain employees—obfuscates the work of millions of low-wage workers who’ve fought for an increased minimum wage in recent years.

JP Morgan made $5.5 billion in the first three months of this year. The bank can afford a lot more than the $1.85 minimum wage increase Dimon is so proud of offering. But does he really need the opportunity to pat himself on the back about creating “more widely shared prosperity” in the form of making a necessary adjustment to his business model? Unlikely.

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  1. EndOfTheWorld

    Jamie Dimon is ridiculous. I quit watching CNN on TV permanently (as in, not even glancing at it) after I saw a commercial for his company which was nothing but a lot of flattering images of Dimon—Jamie walking purposefully through the trading floor, Jamie gazing intently at a computer screen, Jamie chatting wittingly with fawning employees, etc. If he wants to actually be likable with the masses he’s gonna hafta have his PR people figure out some better gimicks, because stuff like that commercial, and bragging about a tiny minimum wage increase, ain’t gonna get it.

    1. cocomaan

      You have to wonder why JPM and Goldman and the rest of these TBTFs seem to be prepping the waters for a plunge.

  2. der

    Wow. From the mind of one of our brilliant leaders comes this latest East Hampton cocktail talk bullshit. In his book “Listen, Liberal” Thomas Frank gives over an entire chapter to The Innovation Class:

    “In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed the plight of the country’s working people-of Americans who used to be able to get a “job for life” without having a college degree. The president gave a powerful description of what had happened to them with deindustrialization: their shattered towns, their ruined lives, their piddling paychecks.

    Ordinarily, this is the point where a Democrat would start laying out his plans to reverse this disaster….But not this Democrat. [Instead] You guessed it: innovation was what we needed more of. “The first step in winning the future,” Obama announced, “is encouraging American innovation.” On this matter, government could act without any problem. We needed to subsidize innovators, he said, and generously, in order “to spur on more success stories.” Since everyone knows that innovation is connected to higher learning, Obama called on students to study harder and for more people to go to college.”

    “..In fact, the culture of innovation is so pure and so stridently noble that it often sounds like advertising.”

    And: “the fog of righteousness surrounding this concept is so thick it allows all manner of absurdly altruistic claims.”

    Though I am a Times subscriber I am not Dimon’s audience, his high flying feeding at the government free money bailout trough for the TBTF movers and shakers are. Good on ’em. Our Best and Brightest, recycling old Montauk Beluga caviar and Amosu champagne chatter. Innovator’s. And Influencer’s.

    The planet burns.

    1. YankeeFrank

      you really should drop that sub. You can get the Times online for free. Just read your ten articles and then delete the NYTimes cookie from your browser and read your next ten. Even if you read twenty times articles a day that doable, though how anyone could find that much to read in that neoliberal rag each day is anybody’s guess. MOst of what they write is high order propaganda, though these days NPR is giving them a run for their money.

      As I was getting out of the car last night I heard the guy on All Things Considered telling me how gracious our congress is they’re letting me read what kind of GMO’s are in my dinner using my smartphone… ya know instead of simply printing it in plain English on the label. Congress is really looking out for me and now I can thank NPR for letting me know. I do hate listen to NPR but will never, ever give them a dollar.

      1. Butch In Waukegan

        In the future?

        “You have reached your 10 free food content searches this month. Please renew your subscription.”

  3. Greg Taylor

    A $2/hr raise for 18,000 workers costs $72 million per year – an amount that could be found by reducing the salaries of a handful of top execs to $1 million / yr. Roughly 0.3% of net income.

    1. cnchal

      JP Morgan has well over 200,000 employees, but when one looks at profits per employee for the January to March quarter of this year it works out to over $23,000 which is much more than what they earn for themselves.

      Jamie knows how to sweat the assets.

      1. Greg Taylor

        The Times article implied that only the 18,000 lowest wage US employees currently making ~$10/hr would be getting these raises. Regardless, the changes won’t be noticeable on future income statements.

        1. John

          Jamie Dimon has looted over a billion dollars from JPMorgan Chase, or in other words, the American people,
          and he’s crowing about paying 18,000 employees $1.81 more hours in a few years?

          Damn these criminal elites are brazenly taunting us these days.

  4. human

    So, his base pay is almost $15,000.00 per hour… as if he actually labors 8 hours per day.

    1. Jim

      His base pay is just his coffee money. You don’t get to be a billionaire with even a salary of $27M/yr. It is the stock and bonuses which increase the take by another order of magnitude.
      Of course, he really works 24 hrs a day.

  5. Butch In Waukegan

    In the future?

    “You have reached your 10 free food content searches this month. Please renew your subscription.”

  6. Shepsl Topaz

    This is after spending years dumping solidly middle class, salaried workers by the thousands and – in the case of tech jobs – sending the work out of the country to cheap labor markets, all while enriching himself at the expense of shareholders. Jobs cut, billions in fines paid, but Jamie gets t pat himself on the back? Shame on the Times.

  7. oho

    When your a bank w/$1 trillion+ in assets, your CEO adds zero in value (except for the smoozing/grifting on Capitol Hill and Manhattan cocktail parties)….as the bank is basically one big debt index fund.

    Replace Jamie Dimon w/an asset allocating Skynet and shareholders wouldn’t know the difference.

    At the very least every too big to fail bank should be split into thirds.

    But the bicoastal crowd likes having a nationwide ATM network, ATM transaction fees can be burdensome, ya know.

  8. Yer Lucky Ya Gotta Job

    As Archie Bunker once explained to his son-in-law, “Ya see, ya gotcha basic ‘Tinkle-Down’ economics. It woiks like this here. Ya give all the money to the rich people and then they tinkle down on the rest of us.”

    John D. Rockefeller probably thought it was the “right thing to do” when he threw handfuls of dimes down onto the masses in the street from the window of his office. Dimon’s actions are merely an updated version of Rockefeller’s noblesse oblige. Maybe we ought to call him Jamie “Dimes” Dimon from now on

  9. Yer Lucky Ya Gotta Job

    As Archie Bunker once explained to his son-in-law, “Ya see, ya gotcha basic ‘Tinkle-Down’ economics. It woiks like this here. Ya give all the money to the rich people and then they tinkle down on the rest of us.”

    No doubt John D. Rockefeller thought it was the “right thing to do” when he threw handfuls of dimes down onto the masses in the street from the window of his office. Dimon’s actions are a modern version of Rockefeller’s “generosity.” Maybe we ought to call him Jamie “Dimes” Dimon from now on

  10. readerOfTeaLeaves

    FYI, I had a LinkedIn email touting Jamie Dimon’s pay raise for workers at JPM. I had zero time to read it, although I was mildly tempted just from sheer morbid curiosity. Good to know one of our Overlords thinks it necessary to shill at LinkedIn.

    Word in my network is that Jamie and Chase were behind tanking a deal that was in the final moments of trying to salvage WaMu (Washington Mutual). Chase did not have branches on the West Coast, including some high income zip codes. By preventing anyone from saving WaMu, Chase was able to grab up a lot of banking outlets up and down the left coast.

    1. griffen

      That rings a bell sort of. Coulda been FDIC working on an arranged “m & a”. Like Citigroup buying Wachovia ( seriously that was a plan before Wells ).

  11. Tertium Squid

    Spreading it out over three years also gives them credit now for something they don’t have to do for an eternity in business-time.

  12. cnchal

    JP Morgan made $5.5 billion in the first three months of this year. . .

    With roughly 235,000 employees it works out to over $23,400 of profit per employee for the quarter.

    That’s called sweating them.

  13. hjp

    Have you take a good look at the NY Times lately. Daily it has each day a very large story mostly junk with pictures that just about fit on the page. When I was in the business (newspapers) that was know as “craping out the paper.”
    After you check the first section mostly on how Putin is the worst person in the world the following section has little or no advertising. And I mean none. They have brought out most of the old real journalists and we are now presented with those 20 year olds that were editors at their college newspaper.
    If you have not notice take a look it won’t take long about 5 minutes.

  14. ian

    OK, stupid question: how many of JPM Chases’ employees actually earn the minimum wage?
    Cleaning staff (probably contracted)? The gardeners and guys who pick up trash in the parking lots?
    Somehow I doubt this is going to hit their bottom line in a big way.

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