Report: 76ers change course on cutting staffer pay during coronavirus pandemic

Jason Owens
·2 min read

After announcing that full-time staffers were facing pay cuts on Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly rescinded those salary reductions following intense public blowback.

Principal owner Josh Harris provided a statement to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday noting that “it’s clear that was the wrong decision.”

‘I apologize for getting this wrong’

“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Harris wrote. “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 — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the season.

“After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. This is an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most (sic) of us have ever lived through before — and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

Cuts for workers making more than $50K

At-will employees who make more than $50,0000 were informed that their salaries would be cut by 20 percent and that they’d move to four-day work weeks starting on April 15.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Harris helms Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment which is the principal owner of the 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. Harris is worth $3.9 billion, according to Forbes. Devils staff members were subject to the same pay cut.

Josh Harris changed course on salary cuts after fan backlash. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Josh Harris changed course on salary cuts after fan backlash. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Internal, external backlash

Marc Stein of the New York Times broke the news and reported on Monday that contracted employees including coaches and front-office staff were also asked to participate in salary cuts. Being that those employees are under contract, the team could not have imposed those cuts on an involuntary basis.

General manager Elton Brand agreed to accept the cut, according to Stein. But shortly before Tuesday’s announcement rescinding the cuts, Wojnarowski reported that “there's apprehension on committing to giving back money” among members of the front office and coaching staffs.

Then the Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that 76ers part-owner Michael Rubin was “upset and outraged” at the announced pay cuts. Minutes later, Harris released his statement rescinding the cuts.

The decision also arrived following a torrent of negative social media response from fans blasting Harris for the cuts during a crisis.

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