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Monday, June 30, 2014

All the Money in the World, Part 1

            Charles Hoffelt sat at his desk looking over McBurger’s financials for the quarter. His office sat on the 78th floor at the northeast corner of the Empire State Building and often he liked to take in the bird’s eye view of the city at four in the afternoon, but today he was concerned by what he felt were the company’s rising labor costs. Business was good, and profits were steadily increasing, but his end of the year bonus couldn’t handle the weight of rising labor costs.
            He pushed a button on the black intercom that sat on his desk. “Ms. Terrien,” he said, “can you come in here please?”
            The etched glass door to the office opened and a blond woman in her late twenties dressed in a conservative pants suit, carrying a yellow legal pad, walked in. “Yes, Mr. Hoffelt?” she asked.
            “How much do you think I make a year, Stephanie?” Charles asked her.
            “I don’t think, sir,” Stephanie said. “I’m your assistant, it’s part of my job to know how much you make.”
            “How much do I make then?”
            “You make $8.75 million annually before bonuses, sir.”
            “And how much do our employees make?”
            “The annual wage of our employees varies, sir, but entry level wage at the franchise level is $7.25 an hour. Most entry level employees work anywhere from twenty to thirty hours a week. So on the high end our entry level workers make approximately $11,310 an hour.”
            “That much?” he asked. He looked at her for the first time since she entered the office. He laid the budget down on the desk. “I thought it was less than that.”
            “It was, but there was a minimum wage increase recently. Despite the increase, many of our employees find that the wage leaves them in poverty.”
            “There are government programs to assist with that, though, aren’t there?”
            “Yes sir, but the employees feel that even after government assistance they are far below the poverty line.” Stephanie sat down in a chair across the desk from Charles. “Recent company-wide surveys indicate that many of our employees are particularly worried about the coming holiday season. They’re struggling to provide for their families as it is, let alone handling the traditional holiday requirements.”
            Charles leaned back in his chair. “Stephanie, what is our motto here at McBurger?”
            “Better, faster, cheaper.”
            “If we raise employee wages, how would we be able to keep that motto?”
            “I don’t have the answer to that, sir, but at the current wages our employees can’t even afford to buy our own food.”
            Charles leaned forward. “Our employees aren’t buying our food?”
            “They can’t afford it, sir.”
            “That’s a travesty.” He stood up and turned to the window. “Profits are up, but profits obviously aren’t where they could be.” He stroked his forehead then ran his hand through his hair. “Stephanie, can you get Jim on the line for me?”
            “Jim?”
            “Oh I forgot, sorry,” he said, turning around, “you don’t know Jim. Representative Jim Eldridge.”
            “The Congressman?”
            “Yes, we’re old golfing buddies. I think he can help us out here.” Charles sat back down at his desk. “If you look through my directory you should find several different numbers for him. Use his cell phone. Congress is in recess and I doubt he’ll be in his office today.”
            “Yes sir.” Stephanie stood up from her chair and exited the room.

            Charles picked up the budget and looked over it again, shaking his head. It was only a few minutes before the phone rang. He picked it up.

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