Circuit City's "Wage Management" Scam

Corporations keep inventing Orwellian words of newspeak to disguise the nastiness of their continuous job cuts. For example, instead of using the honest term, "fired," the latest fad is for companies to say they have "eliminated redundancies in the human resources area." No doubt that makes the fired workers feel much better.

Corporations keep inventing Orwellian words of newspeak to disguise the nastiness of their continuous job cuts. For example, instead of using the honest term, “fired,” the latest fad is for companies to say they have “eliminated redundancies in the human resources area.” No doubt that makes the fired workers feel much better.

Circuit City, however, has taken the firing game to a new level of absurdity by figuring out a whole new way to eliminate those “redundancies.” The giant electronics retailer says that it is simply doing away with the jobs of 3,400 of its most-experienced, highest-paid hourly workers. Are they fired? Technically, no. Circuit City says that those jobs no longer exist, so the jobs were eliminated, not the employees. However, Circuit City says 3,400 new jobs will be created – for doing the exact same work. Only, at lower pay. Those out of work salesclerks will be allowed to apply for the new low-pay jobs.

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Wouldn’t that be a demotion? Tut-tut, Corporate America no longer uses such a tacky word, preferring to substitute the term, “negative advancement.” In other words, down is up – though it pays less.

Continuing its descent into the hell of corporate-speak, Circuit City coldly referred to the offing of its top workers as a “wage management initiative.” Let’s take a peak at the genius managing this backwards initiative, shall we? CEO Philip Schoonover’s salary, bonus, and other compensation added up to $8.5 million last year. That’s more than double the pay that the CEO of Circuit City’s top competitor received. And – get this – Schoonover’s hefty sum came as he presided over a 21 percent drop in his corporation’s stock price.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Circuit City’s web site continues to profess loyalty to the rank and file, declaring: “Our associates are our greatest assets.” Uh… wouldn’t those be the assets you just kicked out the door?

“Thousands are Laid Off. What’s New?”, New York Times, April 2, 2007
“Circuit CIty to Fire 3400. Hire Less Costly Workers,” Bloomberg.com, March 28, 2007
“What You Say?” American Way, July 15, 2005

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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