After a hailstorm of negative publicity, Josh Harris, the billionaire owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, has reversed course on a planned pay cut for Sixers employees.
“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” he said in a statement.
“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… After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision.”
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 24, 2020
Harris, who has a net worth of $3.7 billion, released the statement of contrition less than 24 hours after the pay cuts were first reported by Mark Stein of New York Times.
Pushback was immediate, creating a PR nightmare as fans and media attacked the tone-deaf decision.
The @sixers organization is a joke. Josh Harris doesn’t care about the team, the players, the fans, yet alone the employees who work so hard…Sixers are run by a bunch of 🤡’s. @ScottONeil https://t.co/HiQP2FZW0K
— C Dub W (@REALCJW) March 24, 2020
— Marcus Hayes (@inkstainedretch) March 24, 2020
Harris’ original plan required at-will employees making more than $50, 000 to take a pay reduction, which he claimed was a way to avoid layoffs and keep full benefits for 1,500 employees. Harris later changed it to employees making more than $70, 000. It was a stark contrast to the work-friendly, proactive measures Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took after the NBA hiatus was first announced.
Sixers star Joel Embiid, who told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne Tuesday that he would pledge $500,000 for coronavirus medical relief, tweeted his approval of ownership’s decision.
In these trying times, I’m proud of the Sixers organization for reversing course and “doing a 180”. Let’s focus on beating this Coronavirus now. Let’s be responsible and Trust the Process!!
— Joel “Do a 180” Embiid??? (@JoelEmbiid) March 24, 2020
Employees will now be paid in full.