CEOs Gone Wild-How Out of Touch Leaders are Driving Workers to Fight Back

The Rise of Unions and Social Media in the Age of Corporate Dysfunction. Fight lunatic bosses and jobs.

CEOs Gone Wild-How Out of Touch Leaders are Driving Workers to Fight Back
Photo by Tengyart / Unsplash

This week I came across two articles and one Tweet that almost gave me a stroke. It’s about CEO Andi Owen of MillerKnoll and CEO James Clarke of Clearlink. Both CEOs in recent weeks have had town halls where they berated employees for asking for more, told them they work way harder than them, and were happy that a worker had to sell their family dog because of a draconian return to office policy.

You might think these crazy CEOs are just outliers, but I can assure you they’re not. CEOs were very good at hiding their lunatic ways and methods pre-COVID but not anymore. Rampant inflation, the massive effect that was COVID, and a realization that everything is a lie in Corporate America have forced employees to speak the truth to power.

Unions have been formed at a record pace as workers look at all the value they produce for some assbag at the top, only to have that assbag fire them because they missed a perma-growth sales target.

The unhealthy obsession with corporate America’s version of capitalism is killing our society and people. We’re reaching a breaking point and all these crazy stories, videos, and emails are finally seeing the light of day.

Let’s start with Andi, lest she pulls a DCMA and takes down her crazy video. Last month Andi Owen held a MillerKnoll Town hall meeting to address disgruntled employees’ concerns about not getting any bonuses.

Of course, per Andi, they were missing some sales targets and asking the “team” to commit to getting that “$26 million” and not staying in “pity city”. I get it, sometimes companies miss targets but the slap in the face was her $3.9 million bonus.

Yes, she got paid a hefty bonus in a classic case of “nothing for thee, but everything for me.”

If you watch that video carefully she’s animated, speaks bullshit, and uses all the right buzzwords. She’s so out of touch with reality and what her MillerKnoll employees face financially every day. Times are tough, really tough.

If you scan the Indeed job boards for MillerKnoll in Michigan (their headquarters) you’ll see various job openings with salary ranges from $66,000 to $160,000. Those salaries seem to be ok but when you look at Zillow you’ll see small houses for sale for over $350,000.

Considering that the Federal Reserve just posted a median house price of $467,700 for the end of Q4, 2022, you can see that making a salary of $160,000 at MillerKnoll can barely, if not at all, afford an entry-level house in the area.

With the rising cost of food, healthcare, and education, I’m willing to bet that many of those lower-paid MillerKnoll employees needed to get that bonus just to stay afloat. Just to live to worknot work to live.

If you read the Glassdoor reviews you’ll see that she’s completely out of touch. Workers are treated with disdain and exploited. Hell, only 47% of people recommend her and the company! Plain and simple that’s a toxic workplace.

Of course, her crazy video has set off a social media storm and she’s “apologizing” except it’s not an apology to the workers, it’s an apology for this going viral and making her look bad.

As a leader, I try to always pick the right words and tone to inspire and motivate this incredible team. I want to be transparent and empathetic, and as I continue to reflect on this instance, I feel terrible that my rallying cry seemed insensitive. What I’d hoped would energize the team to meet a challenge we’ve met many times before landed in a way that I did not intend and for that I am sorry. — via Vice

Whenever I hear or read of a CEO referring to themselves as a “leader” I realize they’re in love with themselves and their position. If a person calls themselves a leader, they’re not a leader.

Thank you for your hard work, your grace, and for the commitment you show to one another and our company every single day. — via Vice

Commitment? Hard work? No bonus when you get one? Well, guess there’s going to be a lot of people acting their wage now or leaving.

Next up is an even bigger lunatic, CEO James Clarke of Clearlink. This guy hit every conspiracy theory about “no one wants to work anymore” except addressing the elephant in the room. His company is toxic and he’s out of touch with reality.

His Town hall video was leaked as well but he quickly filed DCMA notices to take them down. He knows how bad he sounded despite it being, in his words, a rallying cry. Watch the video in this Vice article and you’ll be wondering how an out-of-touch guy like him ever became a CEO.

He gleefully “rallies” his troops with a story of how an employee had to sell their family dog so they could comply with the return to the office (RTO) policy.

In hopes of rallying the troops, Clarke took the time to pay special attention to one employee who had sold the family dog as a result of his decision, describing it as an example of the “sacrifices that are being made” and saying it broke his heart as someone who, he claimed, has been at the “head of the humanization of pets movement.”

Humanization of the pets movement? What. The. Fuck. No person with compassion and morals would say those things with glee to support their point.

Then he goes on to dance around the subject of people working multiple jobs from home and that the RTO policy was needed to stop that. He alludes to quiet quitters and how he “outworks” everyone on the team.

This man is out of touch with reality, a crappy person, and scared. The Glassdoor Reviews give him a 28% approval rating, that’s worse than Andi Owens.

I’ve been lucky to start my “working life” with a good boss. I worked part-time at a gas station and pumped gas for customers. The pay was decent for the late 80s, I got $6/hr and it was one of the best jobs I ever had.

I had a boss who backed me up and was decent, honest, and trustworthy. Customers loved him, his workers liked him, and the community. He was an all-around A+ guy.

He was the template that I tacitly compared all my future bosses when I was working blue-collar labor. I worked as a busboy, in a machine shop, and as a cashier at 7–11. All those bosses were decent, hard-working, people that could understand any problem I faced, and remedied it.

I encountered all sorts of skullduggery, politics, and bad people once I graduated college and worked for a white-collar corporation.

I will admit, I got blindsided by underhand schemes and trickery. Why? Because I had it good in the past and never expected to be treated like that.

Then I got my MBA and decided to learn how economics and corporations work. I studied strategic management and how technology can leverage a company’s assets (i.e. the workers). After the initial thrill of getting my MBA wore off, I realized that corporations are dysfunctional and petty places.

Corporations and the people that steer them have lost touch with reality. They’ve gotten away with exploiting workers for decades, paying the minimum, and culling them when they’re no longer needed.

Now, with the aftereffects of COVID, social media, and rampant inflation workers have begun to fight back. They have woken up and realize that 1) they don’t deserve to be treated this way, 2) workers and employees are a two-way street, and 3) they can play the same game.

Workers have spilled beans on Crazy and shared it with social media. The court of public opinion, while a monster at times, is a great way to finally speak truth to power and force them to understand it.

Workers realize that they’re the ones who produce the value for the corporation and demand more. Why couldn’t Andi Owens cut her $3.9 million bonus in half and give the rest to the employees? That would’ve gone a long way to boost morale but instead, she chose to go the route of “Fuck you Jack, I got mine.”

Finally, workers realized they could play the same game and started to Unionize. That terrifies CEOs and shareholders because they’re forced to share in the profits. They’re forced to come back down to reality and get back in touch with it.

Workers of the world unite and fight for your earned share of the pie.