my coworkers want me to turn down my raise

A reader writes:

I work for a company with about 30 employees. We used to have five people in owner/management roles and things ran pretty well, but four left in the last year mostly due to the difficult personality of the remaining manager, Mo. Mo became the sole owner but did not want to pick up the extra management tasks, so decided to distribute these to existing employees without any change to our pay.

I only work two days per week and stay at home with my kids the rest of the time, but the draft plan for who would pick up what work would have required about eight hours of work spread across the other three workdays. I am unwilling and unable to afford three days of childcare for three children to do unpaid work, and the work is also not something I want to do or would be good at (for example, I was assigned accounting and payroll tasks but I have diagnosed dyscalculia).

Mo made it clear that “volunteering” was a requirement of ongoing employment with the company. I reached out to my colleagues to communicate my concerns about the proposed changes and ask whether anyone would be willing to join me in raising these issues with Mo and advocating for ourselves. About half told me they were concerned too but would “see how it plays out,” while the other half did not respond.

I’m usually pretty passive, but I know that I bring more than my share of income into the business and that it would not be hard to go and work for myself if I were fired. So I raised my concerns with Mo and negotiated for only four extra hours of work, all on one workday, with a 50% raise.

The final list of task allocations was recently released to staff. It was very clear that I had a small number of easy tasks while others had several, time-intensive tasks. Apparently, a few people asked Mo for a raise at this point, but were told that one employee had “taken” all the money allocated for raises. People put two and two together and figured out it was me, and that information spread quickly through the company. Yesterday I arrived at my desk to find a letter, signed by almost all the other employees, asking that I volunteer for more tasks and decline the full raise so the money can be distributed more equitably. These people did not help me when I asked for their support, and I risked my employment in talking to our manager to get the rewards I got, so I feel resentful that they want me to sacrifice to help them now. However, I also think that taking on more tasks and less money is the Right Thing To Do, in that it would be fairer. But then if I had to take on many more tasks, I would rather just resign. But if I ignore their requests, I’d imagine the workplace is going to become a pretty unpleasant place for me to work.

Do you think I’m right to be resentful or should I make things fairer? Do I respond to this letter? Will I be able to keep working here if I ignore their requests? Is there any advantage to letting my manager know what’s happening?

Wow, yes, you are right to be resentful. It’s not in any way reasonable for your coworkers to ask you to turn down a raise or take on more work on days you are not paid to do work just because they declined to join you in advocating for themselves when you initially proposed it.

To be clear, your coworkers are getting screwed and they have a right to be upset — but they’re getting screwed by Mo/the business, not by you, and you’re not obligated to sacrifice your pay or your free time to make up for the business’s deficiencies.

(Also, for what it’s worth, unless the business has a had a significant decline in revenue in the last year, I’d be questioning whether there really isn’t enough money to pay them what their work is worth, given that four senior managers are no longer on the payroll.)

So, you are right on the principle of it.

Whether that will matter to your coworkers and how pleasant it’s going to be for you to keep working there are different questions. But what about helping your coworkers advocate for themselves? If you tell them that this is the only way you could keep the job and you’re not able to work additional days or take on more hours without being paid for them, but that you want to help them advocate for themselves as well — and then you really do that (which could be anything from telling them what you found effective with Mo, to helping them craft their case, to lending your voice to theirs when they talk to Mo, to making sure they know the National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ right to organize for better wages and discuss working conditions) … well, it might or might not change how they feel. But it’ll demonstrate that you’re on their side and should make it clearer that their beef should be with Mo, not with you.

Then give it some time to play out. You’re in a good position since you’re confident it wouldn’t be hard for you to leave and work for yourself. That means you can afford both to help your colleagues advocate for themselves and to leave if you ultimately conclude it’s not a great place for you to work anymore.

But don’t back down on your pay or your hours. You negotiated the terms under which you’re willing to do the work, and you shouldn’t compromise on that.

Read an update to this letter

{ 366 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    Your coworkers are spineless and selfish and rude. I do think you should help them advocate for themselves anyway.
    Mo sucks as well.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Mo sucks the most. If he cared about OP’s situation at all, he would not have sicced the mob on her by making it clear that she “took everyone’s raises” which is an insane thing to imply anyway. I understand why the coworkers are upset but they’re being duped about how they should be upset with.

        1. Susan Calvin*

          I was yelling CRAB BUCKET in my head too, and I like where you went with that metaphor!

        1. Pixx*

          Ongoing toxicity in a dysfunctional workplace can really, REALLY warp your ability to see clearly. You start to believe everything you’re told, because that’s how it’s worked for so long, and you’re desperately just trying to play the game to keep your head above water – even as the rules constantly change. It becomes normalised.

          I’m being laid off from my mess of a company at the end of the month, where I’ve been treated very badly for a long time, and I’m leaving feeling so dejected, worthless, untalented, and unmarketable that I can’t even look at new job listings without bursting into tears and saying, “What’s the point? No one will ever hire me, anyway. I followed all their rules and believed all their promises, and they’re still chucking me out. Who else is going ti hire me?”

          I hope that isn’t true, but it’s certainly how I feel right now.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      Mo is trying to deflect responsibility on the OP, so he 1-doesn’t have to deal with angry people and 2-doesn’t have to give raises (he hopes). Mo needs to be called out on his BS and also to give people raises. Coworkers don’t realize they’re being distracted from the real issue, which is just as Mo intended it to work.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        Exactly. OP was the only one to raise concerns and push back, and Mo saw the opportunity to make someone else the “bad guy”. So, OP got a few easy jobs and pay bump… and was set up to be the new villain. Unfortunately, I don’t think OP has much recourse – we all know that even if she goes back to Mo and relinquishes some of her raise, he’s not going to dole it out to the other employees. If OP decides she’s had enough and leaves, her wages will be “allocated elsewhere”, and her tasks will be distributed amongst her coworkers.

        This whole place sounds like a toxic, bee-ridden cesspool, tbh.

    3. Antilles*

      Mo sucks, but he’s also kind of genius (in a very much YTA way) by framing the situation specifically to redirect blame to OP. By framing it as “only enough raise money for one person”, he intentionally set up OP as a target for the anger, so the rest of the office stays disunited and focused on OP rather than realizing who the real enemy is here.

      1. Snowday*

        This letter feels like a metaphor for capitalism pitting people against each other. I’m sad that her coworkers are so easily manipulated.

        1. umami*

          Yes, that saddened me, too. OP couldn’t get their support to address the concerns that impacted everyone, but once she advocated for herself, they were finally able to band together against her … instead of management? Very sad.

          1. Enai*

            Well, she seems much more reasonable than Mo. It’s probably easier to get her to do what they want than Mo.

            Maybe OP should plan her exit. This company culture looks toxic to me.

          2. 1LFTW*

            once she advocated for herself, they were finally able to band together against her … instead of management? Very sad.

            Right? If I were in OP’s shoes, I’d point out to my coworkers that they’d already done the hard part of organizing: they’ve, well, organized. They just need to point themselves at the actual barrier to change, which is Mo, not OP. If they refuse to see that, well, OP tried, and she can resign with a clear conscience.

            I think a lot of times there’s just a failure of imagination when it comes to workplace dynamics. People believe ownership/upper management without question, as if they’re a disinterested voice, instead of one with a deeply vested interest in pitting workers against each other while squeezing them for all they’re worth.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Yeah they need to ask who’s getting what used to be paid to the four senior directors who left. Sounds like there should be plenty to go round, in line with the extra tasks allocated.

        2. Boof*

          Pretty much any human government system involves people in power, who are more than willing to pit people against each other if they do not have proper checks and balances

          1. Rose*

            But not all people are so stupid and easily pitted, thank goodness.

            I’ve been in plenty of places where management “couldn’t afford raises” even when we were doing stupendously well finically, and people were smart enough not to blame colleagues who were out earning them, regardless of what management said.

            An entire office full of people, so obnoxious and easily manipulated that they were willing to sign a letter asking a coworker to give up a raise and take on unpaid work sounds like a depressing place to be. Every non-OP person in this story sounds awful.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Indeed. Anyone who expects people to do unpaid work at their job has questionable judgment, IMO. When it’s employees, it’s WILD. It’s especially galling when they had the chance to come together and negotiate from a position of strength, and chose not to.

              Don’t back down, OP! If you’re going to do more work, you deserve to be paid for it!

      2. Ellie*

        Unless his goal is to force OP out then he’s not a genius. Many people would have bailed after being confronted with that letter – I know I would have.

        OP, the right thing to do is what you already did – speak with Mo and lay out the terms by which you were willing to perform the extra tasks he needed. Sacrificing yourself and your children’s standard of living is not right at all. Your coworkers sound deluded.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          He’s a genius in that he has no desire to give raises or treat people well. This place already seems like a hive of angry bees, so people are primed to be angry. Then he just pointed the angry people in a direction and gets to sit back and not deal with any consequences.
          We’re not saying it’s a good thing that Mo is like this. But in his own personal world he’s definitely genius for deflecting ALL anger off of where it belongs.

      3. Princess Sparklepony*

        Although he does have access to four executive level salaries from the four other managers that just left. I doubt the OP’s raise was the equivalent of four manager’s salaries…

    4. Elle*

      Agreed. Were I in the LW’s shoes I would not feel particularly friendly towards the coworkers just because of the incredibly obnoxious mix of 1) fundamentally misunderstanding how things work 2) believing Mo’s BS, and 3) letting Mo redirect their emotions towards the letter writer. But I’d still try and help them. Even though I highly doubt they’ll get themselves together and figure out that Mo is their problem, not the LW. It’s sad, but many Americans are so brainwashed by capitalism that they aren’t capable of grasping that they have rights and that the person in a position of authority may (gasp!) none thwir real enemy, not their fellow workers…

      1. Correct.*

        Yep, exactly.

        LW would be perfectly within their rights not to help, but helping them is really the best chance at a truly positive outcome here.

      2. Tom*

        If you think this dynamic isn’t just a present in non-capitalist systems you are sadly mistaken.

    5. Phony Genius*

      I put somewhere between 90 and 99% of this on Mo. Mo should not have told the others that one employee took all the money.

      As to the LW, it is unlikely that this place will ever be a comfortable working environment again. I don’t think Alison’s advice is likely to win back the trust of the coworkers, based on their behavior. It’s worth trying to help them, but be prepared to have to either leave or be resented by your coworkers if you stay.

      After writing the above, I can’t help thinking that Mo knew all this would happen, and as owner, saw this as a way to simultaneously shut down raises and reduce the workforce by trapping the LW into taking a raise that would ultimately lead to them quitting.

      1. sequinedhistories*

        I think you’re giving Mo too much “evil genius” credit here. I do not think Mo was playing 3-D chess with OP’s salary negotiation.

        I think Mo understands that it’s worth Mo’s while to keep OP. Giving OP this relatively sweet deal was probably worth it to Mo based on OP’s value to the business. But Mo isn’t willing to pay people what they’re worth as a general policy/best practice; no, Mo’s feet have to be held to the fire, and Mo is perfectly willing to be a total jerk in a penny-wise-pound-foolish sort of way to avoid giving out raises.

        Look at how Mo already drove off 4 nicer people on Mo’s level AND decided to redistribute all that work without hiring anyone else or offering anyone even the smallest raise. I think it’s more likely that Mo is just a shortsighted jerk. There are a lot more shortsighted jerks out there than evil geniuses, that’s for sure.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Agreed. I think it’s more likely that he’s an incompetent jerk who didn’t think through the consequences of telling people they can’t have a raise because someone else did than it is that he’s trying to sow division among the staff.

    6. Well...*

      Yea, honestly, this did do a lot of damage done to working relationships — but it’s damage that LW’s colleagues did to their relationship with LW! I would struggle after this to see them as anything other than spineless, selfish, and rude.

      Anyways, I work all the time with spineless people (hi Academia), so you can still be productive and stunned by how much people are willing to spinelessly crumble in the face of minimal conflict with power. Just remember that you’re the one in the right, and probably the only one willing to stand up for anything right or wrong, and let that knowledge sustain you.

      1. Zweisatz*

        The problem arises when people freeze OP out and she can’t do her job anymore because of this situation.
        Depends a little how much she collaborates with her coworkers, but who has no collaborative tasks at all?

        This is on Mo and the coworkers, but it might still be a longterm problem for OP at this job.

    7. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Mo really sucks. What kind of rank amateur idiot tells the employees that another employee took all their money for raises? That’s bottom feeder level of management.

    8. Ew Mo*

      Quite an uncharitable read for a bunch of people who are being scat upon by Mo. OP is definitely not the problem. Coworkers are distracted by Mo’s manipulation. But Mo is A#1 ASHPIT for putting this in motion.

    9. SnappinTerrapin*

      They wanted to wait and see how it plays out. Let them learn to stand on their own two feet.

      You don’t owe them any explanation, much less any help. If you want to, that’s fine, but they are directing their anger in the wrong direction – which is exactly what Mo wants them to do.

  2. Heidi*

    As if it were even possible for one employee to claim all the raise money for themselves. Mo is the one who decides who gets the money – why isn’t there an angry mob letter on his desk?

    1. Beth*

      There’s absolutely no way that 4 managers’ salaries added up to a 50% raise for OP’s part-time salary, so, OP absolutely did not ‘claim all the money’. That’s just Mo straight up lying.

      OP, it sounds like your coworkers are fairly suggestible. Maybe it’s worth straight up telling them 1) that you did negotiate for a raise, 2) that what you negotiated for absolutely doesn’t add up to the amount of money that should be budgeted for these tasks, and 3) that you’ll share what you said to Mo to negotiate for what you got, and really suggest that they do the same. Yes, Mo says the current allocation is ‘final’…but let’s be real, it’s only final if people actually accept it and start doing it. The question will reopen quickly enough if your coworkers get it together and push back as a group.

      1. Anne Shirley*

        Exactly. I am not a numbers person but heard the record-scratch sound effect in my head. If I understand this correctly, the OP is now working 2.5 days instead of 2 and received a 50% raise…and *that* used up all the money?! And chances are good the OP receives little to no benefits with her part-time salary. What an awful, childish leader.

        1. Rose*

          Even if this was the only money available for raises, which is obviously BS, how far do these geniuses think that raise money is going to go once it’s split across ~30 people?? Everyone gets a 1-2k raise?

          If I were OP I’d demand to know how much everyone else makes. Who’s to say that salaries were equitable to begin with? Maybe OP was most underpaid to begin with.

          1. OP*

            I know how much everyone makes – Mo sent me all the payroll and budgetting files. Everyone works parttime but taking that into account, we were all earning pretty similarly. There was a big difference in how much we bring into the company, about a third bringing in more than they were paid, a third bringing in about what they were paid and a third bringing in less.

            1. Boof*

              Now I gotta ask; the third who bring in less, are they bad at their jobs or just assigned things that are less profitable, but necessary? It sort of seems to me like the sort of job that begs for some base wage + incentive pay, then hire other staff to do whatever support work is needed that no one wants to do on a standard hourly salary. Etc etc.
              Sorry too much of a tangent just seems so strange to hear anyone trying to pressure you to do more work for less money with a straight face, especially if you are one of the ones really bringing in revenue for everyone else.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right. This makes zero logical sense that OP would’ve taken up the entire raise fund for 30 employees for a 4-hour increase in work hours. It boggles my mind that during that whole process of crafting a letter, printing the letter, getting it signed by everyone, and having it delivered to OP’s desk, not one person stopped to say “wait a minute, yall. These numbers don’t add up!”

      I think the place is too far gone, bees everywhere, and OP really should just resign.

      1. linger*

        The important missing factor in this argument is that the nett cost of a worker to THIS company is (salary+compensation) minus (business profit brought in).
        The four owners who left were a nett benefit to the company’s bottom line, because they brought in more profitable income than they cost in salary. But those income sources have mostly vanished with them, leaving the company in a much less secure state overall.
        OP also brings in some business to the company, and their successfully negotiated raise in part reflects this fact.
        We don’t know if the business case for OP’s coworkers is as strong; but clearly the coworkers should be directed towards making that case, rather than ganging up on OP.

        1. Just me*

          “The four owners who left … brought in more profitable income than they cost in salary. But those income sources have mostly vanished with them, leaving the company in a much less secure state overall.”

          Wait, do we know that from the letter? I can’t find the source of that information, but I’m sick, so I might not be processing correctly.

          1. linger*

            The main clue in the original letter that this is in play is OP’s statement that “I bring more than my share of income into the business”. Other responses by OP downthread confirm that this was even more true of the four departed owners.

    3. Caliente Papillon*

      Because the spineless coworkers are too spineless to talk to Mo but don’t mind treating their coworker poorly. Typical

      1. somehow*

        “Typical” of people who want to keep their jobs. Mo holds the keys on that; OP doesn’t.

        I’m not all defending Mo, but there is understandable logic driving the actions of OP’s co-worker.

    4. OMG, Bees!*

      Exactly. Especially since it sounds like 4 people have quit and the workload has been distributed. Well, then their former salaries can be distributed to everyone as well.

    1. Elle*

      Right? I love how they were able to get it together to organize AGAINST THEIR FELLOW WORKER but apparently organizing to push back against their terrible boss is too difficult. Cowards.

      1. Well...*

        Agreed, total cowards.

        Feel free to ignore a letter signed by cowards though. What are they going to do otherwise? Passive aggressively huff around you? They don’t have the courage to face anything directly (they didn’t even talk to you face to face about this) so you probably have nothing to be afraid of. If you’re willing to be direct with them and steadfast in the face of conflict, it’s hard for me to imagine them making your work life all that difficult unless they magically grow way more courage.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          People who don’t have the courage to confront you directly can still make your life miserable, though.
          Ooops, someone spilled espresso on your chair the day you were wearing while pants.
          Huh, I wonder where all your pens and post-its went?
          Oh, were you using that charger? Sorry, my chair ran over it and it doesn’t work anymore.
          Was that your egg salad? Sorry, I moved it this morning and forgot to put it back in the fridge until 20 minutes before lunchtime.

          And that’s just what I came up with in 30 seconds of thought. I bet OP’s coworkers know her and her habits much better.

          1. Parakeet*

            They could also damage the LW’s reputation with other companies in whatever field this is.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Oh the MANY people who are pushing the studios’ line for them. Seriously, I have argued with people that saying the actors don’t need raises because Insert Famous Actor Here makes millions. I point out this is exactly what the studios want, people angry at the folks making millions so the billions the studios make get ignored.

        I also do this in sports when a player is called selfish for holding out for a better contract.

    2. Lady_blerd*

      The colleagues do not want to risk their job so they’re going after who they think is the weaker target.

  3. Janice*

    This feels a bit like a dysfunctional family where one person finally has had enough and speaks up against the abuser and now the rest of the family is turning on that person to be reasonable – because that is much easier than making the abuser see reason.

    1. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Agreed – so much dysfunction at the top is bound to spill downwards. I bet Mo thinks/says they’re “like a family”.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Sadly I read this and felt more like, “ah yes a microcosm of many of the structural challenges in the US right now.” Someone at the top is teaching all the little people to point fingers at each other while quietly making off with all the money!

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I was raised by conservative Republicans (both fiscally and socially) and now that I’m nearing the corner on 40, my politics having done a complete 180, I am completely stunned by their inability to see larger systems at work. My mother frequently comments on my ability to connect what’s going on in the news today with the broader context/systems (I went to journalism school and am a reluctant news junkie). It’s sad that there’s no point in wondering if they would have different political views if they could see these systems because they’ve buried their heads in the sand.

      1. Melicious*

        I was just thinking the exact same thing. Bravo to Mo for screwing over his employees and making them mad at EACH OTHER instead of him.

    3. Beth*

      Ding ding ding we have a winner.

      In an abusive situation, the one unforgiveable sin is to say “Ouch, that hurts.” That will make everyone else who’s being hurt turn and attack the person who said ouch. How dare they?

    4. OMG, Bees!*

      Very apt answer. First Mo chases/pushes out all the other managers to be the sole owner, now has the employees fight amongst themselves for who gets the workload and raises. It’s very “don’t rock the boat” by speaking against the abuser instead of stopping the abuse.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    What a perfect example of how humans will adapt to almost any system, and then glare furiously at the sole person not abiding by the local norm to make all requests in the form of the pina colada song, sung with a goose on your head.

    1. Dinwar*

      And the longer you’re in a situation like that, the more you come to accept it as normal. Which means you carry that attitude with you to the next job, or when you get a promotion, or whatever. Thus perpetuating the cycle.

      Best to get out of such a nasty situation before you become used to it!

    2. and then it was Petyr!*

      If you like more money
      And getting none of the blame

      Meet me at my desk at midnight, and we’ll all

      (Insert goose hat here)

    3. Kit*

      Well, it does simplify things from having to deliver all requests in Kay(f)bop(t)… although I wasn’t aware the goose-hat was an acceptable substitute for the turkey-or-pangolin syllables.

  5. LawBee*

    Stick to your guns! If your coworkers had done anything for themselves when you brought it up, and were denied, that would be one thing. (And even then, I’d question it.)

    But they can’t reasonably elect to sit back to “see how things play out” and then get pissed AT YOU when things “played out” to their detriment.

    You fought for it, you got it, coworkers learned a valuable lesson.

    Also, Mo sucks.

    1. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, it’s totally possible to feel like your own interests/goals don’t align with a coworker’s, and decline to go in with them on something. There are cases where waiting to see how it plays out can be the smart move. I don’t blame them until they took the bait of blaming OP for what happened.

      1. LawBee*

        Yeah, no blame from me for taking that strategy.

        But as I said, being mad *at the OP* when it didn’t work isn’t reasonable.

        1. LawBee*

          Actually, now that I think about it, maybe there is a little side-eye from me because it appears that their strategy was a mix of letting things play out and also expecting OP to not advocate for herself. So, that’s a them problem.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I’m guessing they thought advocating for oneself wouldn’t work because Mo appears to be so unreasonable, so they thought that if the OP did do so, she’d be turned down at best or fired at worst. And they weren’t willing to risk their jobs on an idea they thought had no chance of working. Then it worked for the OP, so they changed their minds and decided to try it themselves and Mo basically played, “oh well, sorry, somebody’s taken it all now.”

            But yeah, the OP took the risk and reaped the benefits. They didn’t take the risk and gained no benefits. That isn’t the OP’s fault. If it had gone the other way and she had been fired for asking, I doubt they would be standing up for her.

            1. Admin Lackey*

              “If it had gone the other way and she had been fired for asking, I doubt they would be standing up for her” So true! They want solidarity now, after the know negotiating can work….

              But instead of using this new solidarity against Mo, they’re trying to use it against the LW! If I was her, I’d be so angry that I’d be climbing the walls and gnashing my teeth

            2. Sloanicota*

              Also OP knew she was in a good position because she was perfectly willing to walk away. That’s great, but other coworkers may have felt differently about their positions and not wanted to be seen making too strong a stand if they weren’t as sure of their value to Mo. Maybe going in as a group would have worked, maybe OP was only successful because Mo realized he could just buy her off individually. I still say I don’t blame them until the moment they started writing that ridiculous letter to OP.

              1. LawBee*

                Potayto potahto, really. They suck now, it’s not super critical to specifically pinpoint when they started to suck, ha ha.

        2. somehow*

          I doubt that deep-down they’re mad at the OP. On its face, it seems so, but OP is an easy target, because OP can’t fire them.

          Mo can.

        3. OP*

          I agree it was a valid strategy – most of the ones who didn’t respond at all could be considered Mo’s favourites and they were certainly within their rights to think it would work out well enough for them if they did nothing.

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      Sooooo tempting to tell them “Oh well I guess this is just how things played out, what can ya do.”

    3. learnedthehardway*

      And it didn’t even play out to the co-workers’ detriment!! That’s just what Mo is claiming. There’s absolutely NO reason to assume he’s telling the truth. In fact, he’d be an idiot if he had given all available money to the OP, because it was quite reasonable to expect other employees to also ask for a raise, given that they were going to be given additional job duties.

      OP, you should point out to your coworkers that you did advocate for yourself, that you asked them to join you and they refused, and that Mo’s statement was deflecting responsibility for the decision to not pay them what they are worth from Mo / the business, and onto you, who has no control over payment decisions. Tell them to take it up with Mo, and leave you out of it.

      Personally, I would be looking for a new job – your manager is a lying cheapskate and your coworkers are idiots.

  6. College Career Counselor*

    Mo sounds like a contender for worst boss of the year. I bet we only got the tip of the iceberg from the LW about Mo’s behavior.

    1. Crumbledore*

      Agreed. I know we usually get some over-the-top behavior in the Worst Boss contest, but I think we need a category for bosses who, like Mo, are horrible in very mundane ways.

  7. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Wow…IANAL, but if the LW works PT, they’re almost certainly non-exempt, so asking for them to “volunteer” is definitely a Federal labor law violation!

    1. Anonym*

      Right? OP, all this “volunteering” is probably illegal! Your co-workers might be interested to know that, or not, but do keep it in mind as you think through the situation.

    2. Miss Muffet*

      I had the sense it meant, volunteer to take on these extra tasks vs. having them assigned (although since her pay is not increasing, I suppose it does also fall into the work-for-free meaning too)

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Or it falls into a pay cut for taking on more work, which as long as it didn’t bring her under min. wage, wouldn’t be illegal. But if Mo was originally proposing “work X extra hours, but for the same total $ as before”, that’s just a pay cut.

  8. Health Insurance Nerd*

    LW, do not forfeit your increase- as you said, none of these people were willing to speak up with you!

    Also, please send an update, I’d love to know how this plays out.

  9. Sciencer*

    If Mo genuinely allocated all the extra budget to boost your salary, and there is none left for other raises, that was so preposterously short-sighted that I would be surprised to see the business sustain itself much longer.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yes! If you have a small raise budget, and you give it all to one PT person (who negotiated in good faith, so not LWs fault!), you’re the one who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and the one people should be mad at. Mo certainly could have said to LW “I appreciate all this, but unfortunately I’ve only been given (not clear on how this workplace functions re: $$) a budget of $X for everyone’s raise, so I can’t match your ask” and negotiated differently, but they did not. Overall, I would say it’s clear that Mo is trying to play everyone off each other so that they don’t have to give raises, or somehow only give smaller ones, or something that isn’t good for LW and the company. But this is a situation of Mo’s own doing, so good luck LW! Stand your ground and deflect the animus back to where it belongs.

    2. Antilles*

      IF that was the case, it would be a glaring red flag yeah. But of course, the actual reality is that Mo is just lying. Think about this math, right here:
      -Four of the most senior people in the entire firm left within the past year.
      -OP works less than half time and just got a 50% raise.

      Do we really think 50% of a part-timer’s salary matches the combined salary of four full-time managers? Anybody out there think those numbers line up so there really was only money for OP’s raise and not a dime for anybody else?

      Of course not, it’s just a convenient lie to distract the employees by pointing them at OP rather than copying OP’s tactics to advocate for themselves.

      1. Anna*

        Yeah and I am assuming a 50% raise only applies to the extra 4 hours worked? It wouldn’t make sense for Mo to grant a 50% raise for only a 20%ish increase in workload.

        1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          It’s 50% more money, total.
          150% pay over 125% hours = 17% pay raise.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Mo might have had to buy out the other 4 — leading to cash flow problems. Which means the company might not be long for the world anyway.

        Either the place is toxic as all get out OR its a sinking ship OR both, whatever it is, OP needs to GO.

      3. linger*

        But you’re looking at less than half of the maths in OP’s own account of events. And in fact, a large part of the problem with OP’s coworkers seems to be that (partly due to Mo’s misdirection) they aren’t considering the other side of the ledger either.
        The more important part is that until their departure, the four managers brought in more profitable business than they cost in salary. Most of that business went with them. Hence Mo can plausibly claim (and may even be correct) that the current state of the company leaves only a limited total amount available for raises. However, Mo is also lying outright about how that amount is determined or distributed or may change in future. This is especially so if some of the tasks currently being redistributed among OP and coworkers are those that can bring in new business.
        OP was able to negotiate a raise largely because they do bring in enough business to more than pay for their own salary. Thus, having OP quit over this would leave the company, and OP’s coworkers, in an even worse situation.
        Other workers in other roles may or may not have as direct a case to make for a raise, but it’s up to them to make that case — and also to consider how the proposed additional duties may affect that case in future.
        The only way the coworkers might have any valid complaint against OP is if OP had selected for themselves the tasks bringing in the most profit for the least effort, thereby strengthening their own case and weakening coworkers’ cases for a raise. However, we do not have any information supporting that scenario.

        1. OP*

          You’re correct. The managers who left didn’t leave four high salaries behind, they took four sources of profit. What I bring in is more than what I cost in terms of salary and overheads, and the raise I got was somewhere in the middle of that gap.
          The tasks we have to take on aren’t profitable, just part of running a business (paying bills, recruiting for new staff, keeping policies up to date etc).

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Honestly, at this point, I might be worried about whether the business will survive the loss of all that profit and Mo’s terrible management.

    3. Dainerra*

      I worked at a place where the max yearly raise was once 5 cents/ hour. but they deducted all of us (5 employees) 2 cents because of “poor attitude” leaving a Max of 3 cents if you meet your pristine and attendance expectations.
      so yeah, it would be possible for 1 person to take the entire budget for raises.
      The manager was not amused by my comment that I would gladly pay 16 cents a day to keep my “bad attitude”

      1. Enai*


        Just… Wow. I bet they had the most loyal and dedicated workforce ever, compensating their employees so well.


  10. TK*

    The thing that strikes me here is that there could easily be some legal violations here, if OP is non-exempt. And since they only work 2 days/week, they may be non-exempt based on the salary threshold alone, regardless of job duties.

  11. The Person from the Resume*

    one employee had “taken” all the money allocated for raises

    First Mo is the one who decides how much is allocated for raises so if he needs to allocate more that’s on him.

    Also you (a part time employee) got a 50% raise. That is signifigant increase for you, but whatever that amount is it would not go very far among 30 people. The amount allocated for raises is clearly small.

    And finally I believe that Mo is probably lying that he had a predetermined amount allocated for raises and he gave it all to you. He probably just gave you what he needed to keep you and get you to do a it more. And later said the predetermined amount for raises was all given to you as a way to make the others turn on you and blame you instead of him.

    But you can’t prove that final point so focus on the other two with your coworkers.

    1. Elevator Elevator*

      You make a great point about 50% of a part timer’s salary not being much of anything once it’s split 30 ways. Even setting aside the exempt/non-exempt issue, OP would need to be making upwards of $70 an hour for their raise to come out to $1000 per year per person.

      I guess it depends on the specifics of who left and what the ownership structure was, but presumably there’s some money lying around that used to be paying some of these departed managers.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Was just thinking that. OP your skills are good enough to leave if you were fired. So do it.

      Why stick around a place that is so toxic that it is literally causing you to think of giving up actual money in exchange for work? This is the exchange in employment, you do work, the company pays you. This is normal. What Mo wants and what your co-workers want is not.

      Also if Mo is pissing off this many people the company might not last long with him as the sole owner. So get out now.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        I agree. There is no good outcome for OP here.

        Keep the raise and small job duties – coworkers hate you and (probably) begin to work against you.

        Give back the raise – coworkers still will think poorly of you, and Mo will know you can be steamrolled.

        Or, leave and nope out of this place, and let the coworkers and Mo sort themselves out without you stuck in the middle.

    2. Dona Florinda*

      Me too. Boss is a jerk on so many levels, and your coworkers WANT YOU TO WORK FOR FREE because they couldn’t a get raise?! That’s so… Regina George of them.

      Also, as The Person from the Resume said above, it’s impossible that your part-time, 50% raise, would be enough to cover everyone else’s. Seriously, so many bees.

    3. Admin Lackey*

      Genuinely, the injustice of it all would make me want to tear my hair out

      And I don’t see any way this works out for LW. If she give up the raise, there’s a 0.01% chance it actually gets reallocated and now she’s working more for no money. But if she doesn’t give up the raise, she has to put up with a whole office that’s mad at her and will probably not treat her fairly. Unless she’s now able to organize them to advocate for themselves, LW is probably best to start looking for a way out

    4. DrSalty*

      That was my thought. LW is confident they can find new work easily. Why stick around this toxic situation and why put in the effort to try to help coworkers who have already turned help down? There’s nothing to be gained imo

    5. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Agreed. The ship is sinking and LW should get a head start to the lifeboats.

      There were originally 5 CO OWNERS splitting management responsibilities. If 4 of them left the business, they didn’t just quit- they pulled their financial stakes from the company. How insufferable is Mo to prompt a mass exodus of partners?

      Unless Mo’s family owns an emerald mine, they probably had to strain to buy out the other owners. Any bets that they’re even solvent enough to make good on LW’s agreed upon raise?

      Presuming that there’s still a snowball’s chance of keeping the ship afloat, Mo isn’t taking responsibility for anything. They’re shifting everything onto LW – including blame. It’s worked on LW’s coworkers for now because the office is so toxic it’s practically a Superfund site, but that ruse won’t hold up for long. Fast-talking and victim blaming won’t work as well on clients or creditors.

      Overall, I give this six months tops before Mo is floating amidst wreckage and whining about why it’s not their fault. All hands abandon ship!

      1. 1LFTW*

        There were originally 5 CO OWNERS splitting management responsibilities. If 4 of them left the business, they didn’t just quit- they pulled their financial stakes from the company. How insufferable is Mo to prompt a mass exodus of partners?

        I had that thought as well. The other four managers took their balls and went home, rather than deal with Mo. I also have to wonder if they also took clients with them when they left, and if they’ll wind up competing with Mo directly?

        Regardless, things definitely do not look good for Mo.

    6. Anonymous was already taken*

      Absolutely, but LW probably is not in a financial position to be able to do that, only working part time and managing a household with 3 kids.
      I think she needs to do as Alison suggested and help the coworkers to advocate for themselves. I can’t believe they managed to get a letter together signed by all of them, they just don’t strike me as people who would put their name to anything, just hide in the background and wait for someone like LW to do it for them.
      But I do think they’ll try to make things difficult for her in the office. Jealous employees can be so spiteful!

      1. Mighty Midget*

        OP literally says that she could manage to get her own work if they needed to, which is why she was able to ask for a raise without worrying about getting fired.

    7. Boof*

      Yes. And when the boss acts surprised “but I gave you that raise you asked for!” respond “.. and then told all the coworkers there was no money for them because of it. Now you can pay them even more!”
      And then walk into the sunset, wearing sunglasses, with explosions behind you

  12. All Het Up About It*

    FAAAAASCINATING how the co-workers couldn’t manage to band together to push back as a group against Mo, but were happy to do so against their co-worker. What a mess.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is the biggest thing jumping out to me as well. There are a lot of things wrong with this place but OP isn’t one of them.

    2. Delphine*

      Pushing back against Mo would have been/felt like risking their livelihoods. Banding together against OP didn’t.

    3. Yellow cake*

      I don’t think it is that simple. LW was in a win-win situation. She was fine with losing her job and knew she could comfortably earn a living without them.

      That’s likely not the case for everyone. Some people risk homelessness if they lose their job. Or can’t access medical care. Or could lose their children in a custody battle because hey you can’t afford to care for them properly. Or even “just” will wrack up debt or lose my savings for the house I was going to buy.

      Some people might, objectively, be in a good position to move on – but are scared because their last job hunt was long, or they don’t have family to fall back on, or interview poorly and will struggle to find work.

      And frankly I can understand why they’re angry. LW knew there was a heap of extra work and few staff – so she negotiated to get the easy load knowing that the others would get more than their fair share. I mean sure, LW hasn’t done anything wrong and is looking out for herself – but she negotiated a 50% raise to take on 25% more work. Knowing that this would mean someone else gets a LOT more extra work. I’d be angry too knowing that she advocated for me to be screwed over – even knowing the boss is the big problem.

      I hope everyone finds a new job and leaves.

      1. OP*

        Thanks for explaining your persective. We’re all high earners, but I understand that some people would still have financial issues regardless of their income and could be scared about losing their job. The “a LOT more extra work” was about ten minutes extra per person per week. If I had to do the three days initially proposed, I would have resigned and then there would have been less money and more work for everyone anyway.

  13. Hornswoggler*

    Surely it’s not legal for you to work for nothing for a for-profit organisation? My knowledge of USA law is mainly gleaned from reddit so don’t quote me, but I’m sure I’ve seen that point made by Alison as well.

        1. TK*

          You only work 2 days/week but are paid enough to be exempt? Not impossible, of course, but it’s definitely not common.

          1. nnn*

            Sure it is if you consider highly compensated professions like law, consulting, some types of sales, on and on.

            1. TK*

              OK yeah, I hadn’t done the math. Working 2 days/week and getting paid the minimum to meet the exempt salary threshold would be the same as working full-time and getting paid $88,920. So yeah, that wouldn’t be uncommon at all. If this was Reddit I’d go edit my comment. :)

  14. Era*

    wow, Mo’s ploy to turn everyone on OP instead of taking the flack apparently worked REALLY well! It feels like in a just world there should be some way of taking their brand new solidarity and turning it back toward where it would actually make a difference, rather than just being crab bucket maneuvers, but I can’t see it immediately — I hope Alison’s advice can make progress but I’m not confident it would!

    I know it sucks, but you might consider taking on an additional task or two or volunteering to reduce your raise for distribution. You absolutely should not have to, but if pointing out that it’s ridiculous to imagine you happened to negotiate for every penny available for raises doesn’t make any headway, it might be an acceptable sacrifice to appease your coworkers. It feels like either way, everyone should be making plans for next steps that do not involve being in this company long-term, though.

    1. P*

      Absolutely do not do this. It rewards Mo’s bad behaviour. Mo created this mess and right now is not feeling any pain so has no incentive to fix it. He has pushed the problem down to someone who really can’t (and shouldn’t) fix it, thus creating resentment and a toxic environment. Taking a pay cut will not guarantee Mo distributes it to others, and if he does it will be so small it won’t help. At best that plan will only temporarily appease the coworkers.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Absolutely not. Your job is not to appease your coworkers. They’ve shown they can come together to advocate themselves when it’s not towards Mo, so help them redirect that energy – but don’t handhold their emotions like they’re children.

      1. Era*

        Agreed that it is not OP’s job to appease them and — to P’s point — it is not good to reward Mo, but I think there’s a balance between what should be true (OP should not have responsibility for solving this) and what might end up being the best course of action to preserve relationships. If it ends up being impossible to redirect coworkers (because Mo is scarier and meaner and has more power than OP), it might be worth appeasing OP’s coworkers to maintain relationships, because working with people who are directing their hatred toward you is not pleasant and it might be worth some money and/or extra time to mitigate that. Though admittedly when writing the advice I forgot Alison’s last paragraph rejecting the idea entirely, and was more focusing on OP’s indecision!

        In any case, that’s up to OP to decide. I don’t think I articulated this very well, but what I meant to propose was that if they decide to go that route, it’s not necessarily a choice between bowing to all or none of the coworkers’ demands! They’re asking for OP to take more tasks and less pay — but maybe they would be satisfied with one or the other of those.

        1. Susannah*

          Why would you way to keep relationships with people who behaved this way?
          They refused to put their necks/jobs on the line to ask for more money or refuse to “volunteer.” They let LW take the entire risk. And now they want her to “share” what would be a piddling amount of money for 30 people – small enough that it’s still not worth it to stay?
          Nope, nope, nope. Mo needs a wake-up call. And letting him know this won’t work is step one.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Mo does need a wake up call, but the calculus for “I don’t need this job, therefore I’m going to negotiate for the tasks I want and a raise and I can walk if I need/want to” is very different to “this is my job and I need it, I don’t know how long it could take me to get a new one and I can’t take any risks on this front”. There are plenty of good reasons that the others weren’t willing to stand by OP, and the way Mo is manipulating everyone speaks to why they’re afraid to stand up about jobs that they may need much more than the OP does!

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      No, don’t do this LW. It will not help. It will not change the situation. It might, in fact, make it worse because the mob will make more demands on the LW since she gave in the first time.

      It’s a ridiculous situation and the LW needs to get out of there.

    4. Humpty Dumpty*

      I wouldn’t do this. It will give them the idea that they’re right to demand this, as if this office is some sort of communal living situation.
      Once you give in even a little bit, there will be no end to the demands from colleagues to give up any reasonable deal she negotiated for herself. I hope OP negotiates only with her boss who has actual managerial power, not haggle with her unreasonable coworkers.

  15. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Mo didn’t want to give the raises so the excuse was someone else took all the money.

    Classic capitalism — get the workers to turn on each other rather than the owners.

    1. Dinwar*

      This may occur within a system of free enterprise/capitalism, but is not necessarily a component of it. The same can happen in socialistic or Communistic societies, or within gift-based/pre-monetary societies.

      The capitalistic ideal is that of trade. In the case of employment, I trade my labor for money. What other people get paid may matter to the person doing payroll (they have a finite amount to pay out), but what you get paid is simply not relevant to my negotiations (assuming there’s not an egregious disparity and that all relevant laws are followed). Of course, what I get paid is mine to discuss, and group negotiations are absolutely a thing in a free enterprise/capitalistic system, so it would be perfectly reasonable for workers to join together and demand higher wages.

      This sort of behavior isn’t a capitalism thing. It’s an abuse thing. The worker/employer relationship is just that–a relationship. Mo is gaslighting their employees and behaving in a manner that is generally indicative of an abuser. Were this, say, a family or a romantic relationship the abuse would be crystal clear.

      1. Sister Administrator*

        The difference between this situation and a family is that Mo is extracting value from his workers and is interested in doing so at the lowest possible cost. It is very much in his material interest to put these people against each other instead of him.

        1. Dinwar*

          You think “extract value from this group of people” doesn’t happen in dysfunctional families or other types of relationships? I can assure you it absolutely does–financial abuse is a recognized type of abuse in romantic relationships, and the idea of a parent exploiting their children for money is at least as old as written laws. Working relationships are a bit different because the whole reason they exist is that your manager believes you’ll bring in more money than you’ll cost, but in a healthy working relationship it’s not inherently exploitative; the worker gets value as much as the manager.

          Unless Mo is pocketing the money he’s not giving out as raises (which is embezzlement and thus falls under the “don’t break the law” parenthetical in my post) he’s not gaining materially. If he is, he’s lied to his employees, committing fraud in the ethical if not the legal sense.

          And bear in mind, I’m in no way excusing his behavior. I’m merely pointing out that it’s got nothing to do with capitalism.

            1. Dinwar*

              If Mo’d said “No one else tried to negotiate a raise so I’m keeping the money saved by the loss of those managers”, you’d be correct. Mo’d be a jerk, but an honest one. But they lied to employees and then manipulated them. Morally, if not legally, Mo’s a fraud–and if I were the IRS reading this letter, I’d be VERY curious how close they skated to the “legally” line.

              Further, it’s pretty rare for a business to be set up such that the owner can just pocket the earnings. They get money from their business, certainly, but it’s not “This amount in payroll isn’t going to anyone else, so I get it.” Not if you don’t want the IRS to be going through your ledgers with a fine-toothed comb. Most business owners I know would redistribute that money to other areas of the business, either because they’re not stupid (and someone demanding people volunteer to work extra while pocketing unspent payroll is stupid) or because they’re legally obliged to do so, or because they have a functioning moral code and stay as far away from edge cases as possible. (Morality and capitalism are not opposites.)

              This idea is stupid from a capitalistic perspective because it’s necessarily going to drive out the top employees (who can easily get jobs elsewhere). What you’re going to be left with is the most dysfunctional employees, who are also going to be the least efficient and most prone to causing problems. This can survive an iteration or two, but after that, you’re going to be losing money.

              1. Susannah*

                It’s not up to the IRS how much Mo pays his employees (and only of interest to DoL if he violates min. wage laws). If he has more money available to pay people more, doesn’t mean he can’t keep it for himself. He’s the owner. There’s no law that says a windfall (whether from 4 managers leaving or a big jump inn revenues) has to be shared with the staff.
                I’m hoping they all get together and decide to quit – all of them. On the same day.

          1. EBStarr*

            Wait, it’s not embezzlement or fraud for Mo to profit from keeping wages low. That’s what is supposed to happen under capitalism — if you own the means of production, and the cost of labor is lower than the value extracted from the labor, you get to keep the profits. I think you’re kinda disproving your own point. In socialism, the workers would be the owners. So this situation would literally be impossible. There would be no “Mo.”

            1. Dinwar*

              “That’s what is supposed to happen under capitalism…”

              Only if you define it using the most hostile terms possible. It’s like defining Socialism using the Stalinist era of the USSR. Are you comfortable with me defining socialism as state ownership of everything, where dissenters are brutally punished if not murdered? If not, please try to argue in good faith.

              Under capitalism the owner is incentivized to pay as little as possible, sure. HOWEVER, the workers are not powerless–as the LW proves. They absolutely can negotiate for higher wages. Or walk away–since they own their labor, they are under no obligation to sell it to this particular owner. Employment is not slavery. And there are incentives for employers to provide higher wages. For one thing, they attract better people–and a higher-paid person that can do better work is often cheaper than a lower-paid worker that does worse work, in both the long and short term. I’ve seen this play out multiple times. A manager or owner who doesn’t see this is incompetent, pure and simple. Further, lying to people (fraud, morally if not legally) is condemned by every advocate of capitalism I know of.

              1. Joron Twiner*

                The problem is Mo doesn’t have to lie, he is only lying to avoid saying NO directly to the workers.

                He could be honest about how much he is willing to pay, comfortable with paying low wages for mediocre work, and reaping most of the profits. That is what he is incentivized to do under capitalism as the owner.

                Lying just makes it easier to cover his tracks and redirect employee resentment. That leaves him free to continue benefiting from the system, and workers too busy in-fighting to advocate for themselves or walk away. So he is indirectly incentivized to lie and mislead.

                Unless/until workers have the financial freedom not to work at all, they will always be at a disadvantage in the negotiation with employers.

              2. EBStarr*

                I beg your pardon, but my definition of capitalism (that the means of production are privately owned) is a mainstream one.

          2. Goldenrod*

            I mean, you make some good points…but it definitely has *something* to do with capitalism!

          3. Lydia*

            It has everything to do with capitalism. And yes, under our current system (capitalism), the relationship is inherently exploitive. Your entire last paragraph makes no sense and makes me think you may not understand what capitalism is or how it functions.

      2. FrivYeti*

        The capitalist ideal isn’t trade, it’s capital. Most economic models include trade as a key element, but the premise of capital is that owners of wealth and property control how production takes place and who works for them, whereas workers and their labour are an asset that can be bought.

        This matters here because, while any relationship can lead to abuse and this is one form of an abusive relationship, the pursuit of profit incentivizes it. Unrestrained capitalism, by design, gives full control over workers to owners, and profit motives incentivize reducing how much benefit workers gain from their work as much as law and society allow, which in turn boosts the profit gained by owners and investors.

        There are a number of restraints in our legal code to prevent unrestrained capitalism from taking hold, but it’s kind of critical to remember that they are brakes on capitalism designed to increase the benefits it provides and reduce the damage it can do, not a core part of the system, and that if those brakes are removed things revert to oppression with astonishing speed.

        1. Dinwar*

          Only if you define it using the most hostile terms possible. It’s like defining Socialism using the Stalinist era of the USSR. Are you comfortable with me defining socialism as state ownership of everything, where dissenters are brutally punished if not murdered? If not, please try to argue in good faith.

          1. Lydia*

            The only person not arguing in good faith is you. You’re comparing our current system where loss of a job can does lead to homelessness, where major medical situations lead to bankruptcy and healthcare is decided based on what will keep profit margins high enough, mass incarceration to keep prisons-for-profit in the black, and paying off politicians is a budget line item as somehow better than Stalinism and, friend, it ain’t.

            1. Boof*

              As someone whose family fled the iron curtain and all the horrors (mass starvation if millions) yes, usa today is way better than soviet russia

            2. RussianInTexas*

              That is…an opinion.
              I mean, I don’t think you will be arrested for slightly disagreeing with the government, because your neighbor ratted you out, automatically get 20 years of hard labor in a labor camp and die there in the US.
              And then your family gets arrested because it’s your family, and therefore suspicious, and they all get sentence to the 10 years of hard labor and don’t get out of the camps.
              Oh, and if you are a Jew, for example, you will get arrested and executed if you dare to be a doctor.
              All this would happen, in the Stalinist Russia.
              Please don’t be glib and compare US to the place you obviously know nothing about.

            3. Silver Robin*

              Lydia, I am 10000% with you on capitalism being extractive and exploitative, but the USSR was authoritarian and corrupt on a level the US is just starting to possibly see.

          2. grumpyface*

            “Only if you define it using the most hostile terms possible.”

            The concept of capitalism was first described and defined by Karl Marx in Das Kapital. Anyone who has used the term since is, in effect, conceding that he described something real and relevant.

            1. Boof*

              That would explain why it’s used as a snarl word among people who seem to thinks Marxism is magically superior to regulated capitalism + social welfare within a capitalist framework despite the tendency for Marxism to turn into totalitarian orwellian nightmare in practice

    2. Irish Teacher*

      And Mo’s logic doesn’t even make sense. Four people left; Mo distributed their work among others, but somehow does not have the pay to distribute, even though presumably, they were paying four management level salaries previously. But one extra 50% of an ordinary worker’s pay takes all the pay that would otherwise have gone to pay 4 owner/managers. I don’t believe it.

      I think the coworkers have reason to be annoyed as they are doing extra work without being paid for it, but they are directing their anger the wrong way.

      Honestly, I think if the LW has the option of resigning and working for themself, it might be the best option. Mo seems impossible to work with, if they have caused 4 other managers to leave as well as manipulating everybody like this. Any boss who essentially tells people, “well, I have no choice to exploit you because LW wouldn’t let me exploit them and there is no way I’m going to pay everybody for all the work I need them to do” isn’t one you want to work for.

      1. I'm a teacher, too*

        It’s even more nonsensical when you remember that it’s 50% of the wages of an employee who worked 16 hours previously and has increased to 20 hours!
        If you do the math out assuming the previous wage was, say, a generous $30 an hour, increased to $45, OP would be increased from $480 to $900 gross weekly. So the full budget Mo set aside for raises across 30 EMPLOYEES!!!!!! was $1800 a month, giving everyone….
        a $60 monthly increase before taxes.
        Unless OP makes $75+ an hour as a part time employee, the “full amount” of funds wouldn’t even make a difference for this many eligible employees.

        1. OP*

          Hi guys, I just want to add that a) we were all very well paid so it would work out at about a $2000 annual raise per person if distributed equally and b) the company did lose a lot of the income that the other four owners were bringing in. They were bringing in more than they were getting paid.

          1. Quill*

            Honestly this does not strike me as a business that is doing well, short term – four out of five owners left at once and the company therefore took a profit hit. Now Mo is trying to get four people’s worth of work for free… overall I would advise polishing the resume.

        2. Susannah*

          I didn’t read it as a 50%-per-hour raise. I read it as a 50% raise, with 4 extra hours of work. So – if she’d been making $480 a week for 16 hours, she’d not be making $720 for 20 hours.

      2. mkl*

        Precisely. Unless revenue has plunged, which OP didn’t suggest was the case, Mo is sitting on the spare income from 4 unused manager/partner compensation packages. Why exactly has no one on the team done the math on that?

        OP, I would skedaddle. Mo is very very bad news and your co-workers aren’t savvy enough to see through his fog- which means he’s going to make you the scape goat. Go start your own practice and send them a Xmas basket each year.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It’s like Mo heard the famous joke about a banker, a working man, an immigrant, and a bowl of 20 cookies*, and treated it as her game plan in dealing with the staff… And it worked! What does it even say about the staff?

      * a banker, a blue-collar worker, and an immigrant are sitting at a table. On the table is a bowl with 20 cookies. The banker takes 19 and tells the worker, “Be careful. The immigrant is going to try to take your cookie.”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        * no idea why Mo was a “her” in my mind. I guess it should’ve been “them”.

        1. Joielle*

          The only Mo I know is a woman so I’ve been thinking the same! Short for Maureen, I believe.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yup. No matter how many times I explained such tactics to coworkers, they never got that they were being played.

    5. tw1968*

      Yes, I kinda feel “if there’s no money for raises” the others should ask Mo what raise THEY took this year, and if they didn’t, will the company be solvent in coming months, since there’s no money for tiny raises for the employees? Not even cost of living/inflation adjustments? Has company raised ITS prices at all? Where has that money gone?

    6. The Queen's Obedient Cousin*

      The “somebody else took all the raise money, so you can’t have a raise” tactic reminds me so much of the occasional stories over on Not Always Right (my other internet addiction besides this site) where parents who don’t want to argue with children about why they can’t have candy claim the cashier won’t let them have it, or that someone else in line says they can’t have any — basically just blaming anyone else in sight to try to shift attention to them. blame.

      Here’s an old example that resurfaced in the “popular” feed recently, but this is the one that stuck with me for how hard it backfired. Unfortunately, in this case, OP can’t just hand raises around to everyone.

  16. B*

    In addition to the NLRB issue, also note that the demand to “volunteer” on an unpaid basis very likely runs afoul of state and federal wage and hour laws if these folks are not exempt (and if they are part time like the LW, they probably are not).

    1. Rainy*

      The head of my division is currently floating plans in her strategy meetings with the heads of the various areas in the division to make professional staff members “raise the visibility” of our offices by doing a totally different job for pay while, I don’t know, wearing special shirts or something? These plans, in addition to being ABSOLUTELY BANANAPANTS, are pretty nebulous thus far. I’m hoping that a strong negative response now will make her rethink this particular exciting new initiative (my response when it was brought up by my manager in an unrelated multi-team meeting as a piece of exciting news was extremely vulgar).

      We’re required to do “other tasks as assigned” a few times a year for big organization-wide all-hands events, and that’s fine, but this is not that. The assurance that we’d be paid for doing these things makes me think that they’re aware that there are multiple possible issues here but that they think they can make them go away if it’s not required so much as *wink wink* “voluntary” and if they pay us.

      I really need management to stop trying this kind of crap.

  17. Overit*

    Just quit.
    Seriously. Just quit now.
    Your coworkers are brainwashed bootlickers who are going to make your life hell.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Yep. The situation will be totally untenable before long.

      Mo’s already driven out the other senior management and sicced your coworkers on you for Not Complying With His Orders. He’s not gonna get any less scummy and your coworkers will find it much easier to blame you than to accept that they screwed up.

    2. sofar*

      Yep. Everyone is tying themselves in knots here about ethics. But LW has said she doesn’t need this job and can easily find another. This workplace is irredeemably toxic. So LW should quit — and let the rest of her coworkers fight Mo/each other over the raise and “tasks” she’s leaving on the table (hopefully while munching popcorn during her notice period).

  18. Bilateralrope*

    Mo has managed to successfully blame the LW for Mo’s decision. Turning a worker vs management disagreement into workers vs one worker.

    LW, you might have some fun if you calculate how much of a raise everyone else would get if your raise was distributed equally between them. I’m guessing it’s much lower than they are expecting. But I suggest you do that in your goodbye email after you find a job elsewhere.

  19. Frodo*

    Holy freaking toxic workplace! Please accept your new pay and terms, or get out if you can. And definitely give us an update!

  20. Other Alice*

    They wanted to see how it would play out. How it played out is that the person who negotiated and advocated for themself was given a fair deal, while the people who did nothing got nothing. Maybe a lesson for them?

    Jokes aside the boss is the worst here, the coworkers should be mad at him.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Yes, I would be inclined to fully explain that to my coworkers before quitting because I think the implied lesson would be well above their head. “There is no scenario where OP takes on more work for no additional pay; so choose your own adventure: option 1, OP will take on the small amount of additional work for the extra pay she negotiated, or option 2, OP quits and now they have even more work and guaranteed Mo still can’t “find” the money to pay them.”

      I actually think the coworkers are slightly worse than Mo at this point because they are the epitome of “if I can’t have nice things, you can’t have nice things.”

  21. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Also, OP, do not become that LW who gave up her pension, etc. to save the company — and got mad at her coworkers for not doing so too. Then got fired anyway.

    You make the best business decision for yourself. If everybody else was too chicken to do it, not your fault.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For those who haven’t read it, Pastor Petty Labelle is referring to the “my coworkers won’t cut expenses, pop culture references in interviews, and more” post from January 25, 2019 and the “update: my coworkers won’t cut expenses” from December 4, 2019. I will link in a follow-up comment.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I was wrong, the OP in that letter didn’t get fired. She eventually left for a new job after half the department was laid off and she was expected to do double work unpaid. But still felt it was the fault of her coworkers for not giving up their own benefits.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      I forgot about that LW. I seriously hope she got some therapy but she seemed so sure she was right and that if only everyone else would have stopped taking that second slice of pizza or whatever, there never would have been any layoffs.

      1. Other Alice*

        I just reread that one. What a wild ride. It was actually worse than that, she was mad at her coworkers for accepting the free pizza that was being ordered when they were working unpaid overtime. I hope she’s okay now, and I hope nobody follows in her footsteps.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Oof, yes. Even though she herself stopped trying to get her coworkers to decline health and retirement benefits, because she realized that “could be seen as bullying”, she seemed to think that HR *should* have been doing that?

          I really hope she’s in a better place.

  22. Fikly*

    I mean, this is how children are taught/socialized from early childhood in the US. The problem is not the system for oppressing you, the problem is anyone protesting the system, and if someone protests enough that something turns out better for them, they are the bad actor, not the system, and we should punish them.

    It turns out that it’s hard to overcome propaganda and brain washing when it starts super early, who knew?

  23. Llama Llama*

    Please Mo. This isn’t a giant organization and you are only a mid-level manager given a finite budget for raises. You are the owner. If your entire budget was a part time persons wages you are either full of it or your organization is in serious trouble.

  24. Rainy*

    This reminds me of the story of the Little Red Hen. Nobody wanted to harvest or winnow or grind or bake, but now they all want a slice of LW’s bread.

    The right thing to do here is to help the spineless assholes anyway, but what the heck.

    1. Blue*

      Came here to say this!! Glad someone mentioned this, it’s almost the exact plot and I loved that book.

    2. McS*

      Let’s be clear. If what Mo is saying is true and one person took all the money, it doesn’t seem like it was the person who went from 40-50% time. Either someone else got a raise, the other owners are still taking the same while doing no work, or he would have never given others raises anyway and is scapegoating you. It would not be more fair for you to refuse the raise. It would put everyone in a worse position where Mo understands he can underpay everyone if he pits you all against each other.

      1. Rainy*

        My suspicion, if the company went from multiple owners to one Mo and Mo is not replacing any of those people even just to do whatever administrative etc tasks they used to do, the one person who “took all the money for raises” isn’t the part-timer, it’s Mo.

    3. Dinwar*

      “The right thing to do here is to help the spineless assholes anyway, but what the heck.”

      If they were starving, maybe. But these are functioning adults who apparently are fine with their pay. If there is a moral obligation to support them, the LW discharged that with their attempt at collective action. The LW’s coworkers rejected the attempt, and thus waved any nebulous responsibility the LW may have had.

      1. Rainy*

        Oh, by “help” I mean encourage them to organize and advocate for themselves as a group, not to give up the raise!

        1. Observer*

          I totally agree with this.

          They don’t deserve it, but I think it adds net good to the world, and might teach them something. And *Mo* certainly deserves it!

    4. OP*

      This is so bizarre! My recollection of that book is that the hen shares her bread with the others in the end, but I just googled it and apparently she eats it all herself. Somehow I must have warped the story as a kid and the version in my head is influencing my career?!

      1. All Het Up About It*

        Or you had a teacher or someone who read the end to you differently! I’ve literally seen that happen. They don’t like the lesson the book is teaching, so they change it to something else.

      2. Rainy*

        Whoa–that is super weird! If it was read to you, I wonder if someone changed it, as All Het Up below suggests, but I also wonder if there were some altered versions of the story being published when you were a kid to, I don’t know, try to encourage kids to be doormats or something. Sounds like the sort of thing one of those small conservative presses would do to discourage people from knowing their value as adults.

        1. 1LFTW*

          I think I may have been conflating it with “Stone Soup”, where the hungry travelers trick the villagers into each contributing to the soup, meaning there’s enough to go around? Because in my memory, after the Little Red Hen eats all the bread herself, the others decide that they’ll all pitch in so there’s enough for everyone next time. They bring the flour to the Little Red Hen with their apologies, and ask her nicely to bake bread for them to share.

          Which, looking back, is exactly the sort of version I’d expect to be told in a Montessori preschool.

    1. pally*

      Hopefully the kind one can get away from fairly quickly and easily with no lasting ill-effect.

    2. Boof*

      Hopefully the kind where all the workers read aam and end up quitting or mo gets pressured into leaving somehow (former is easier than the latter)

  25. Jules*

    If you decline the raise, there is no guarantee that the “extra” money will be redistributed among everyone else. That’s up to the boss and it sounds like he is not a reasonable person in the first place. So you may decline the raise, still have the extra work, and not have a raise, and no one else could get a raise either.

    Also this story makes me think of the fable of the Little Red Hen. Everybody is happy to take the supposed raise that *might* come once you’ve done the hard work…but no one was willing to do the hard work.

    Keep that money and if it gets too toxic, leave and work for yourself… That’s why it’s always good to have a good BATNA / ability to walk away.

    1. Alisaurus*

      I had started commenting before yours loaded, so I didn’t see this first, but I also thought of The Little Red Hen immediately when I got to the part about the letter.

      None of them were willing to do the work with LW, but then they’re all upset she’s “selfish” when her work paid off – even though she gave them the chance to join her at the beginning. But they don’t see that part.

      1. somehow*

        I believe they do, and they’re scared, so they take out their fear on OP, instead of Mo, who could fire them on the spot.

        It seems to me there are nuances here that should be accounted for.

    2. Mill Miker*

      Yeah, I’d want to make sure I’m going over the math with everyone who signed the letter. Like “Okay, I’ll give back the extra 15,000 a year I’m getting now, and there’s 30 of you. Make sure you don’t accept anything less than a $500 a year increase, or your not getting your fair share. But also, if you accept more than that, you can take my place as the greedy one”

  26. Camellia*

    LW, you could point out to them that four managers left, so what happened to their salaries? Do they think that Mo gave you all of THAT? Cue laughter. Then redirect them to ask Mo about it.

    Do not, under any circumstances, give up your raise or take on more work.

    But I do agree with all the posters that say, just get out now. Why wait to see if they’re going to make work miserable for you, or if they can get Mo to give them raises too, or whatever. Just leave the bananas to the banana-pants wearers.

  27. Badass Lady*

    Im genuinely confused. If OP works only two hours a week, shouldn’t that mean they are probably non-exempt? And if they are non-exempt, isn’t it illegal for Mo to require them, or any other employee, to “volunteer” their time? And even if the employees are contractors, these added tasks Mo puts on their plates should call for a renegotiation of contract. I’m legit confused about the legal implications of this situation.

      1. MrsBuddyLee*

        It’s definitely possible to work 2 days/week and be exempt. My company works on a 4/10 schedule, so someone would have to make at least $34.20/hour to remain exempt on a 2 day/week schedule. We do a lot of niche technical work, so most of our employees could do that.

        Given that the OP says “it would not be hard to go and work for myself if I were fired,” I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes enough to qualify.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      You are not confused. Mo is a jerk who is either 1) ignorant of the law or 2) knows but doesn’t think anyone will report him because he has managed to successfully turn them on each other.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I think you’re correct because I suspect this few hours wouldn’t pass the salary test, although in a past role I was salaried, part-time, and I think exempt although it never came up, as I never exceeded the 40 hours (it’s not pro-rated). In the letter about Sally and Fiona earlier, these were the conditions: “If Fiona’s work responsibilities or pay mean that she’s non-exempt, you’re required to pay her for all hours she works …If she’s earning less than $35,568/year, she’s non-exempt, no matter what her job duties are. Interestingly, the law doesn’t prorate that for part-time employees. You’d also need to make sure she’s earning at least minimum wage when you divide her current pay by the hours she’s actually working, not the hours she’s been assigned.”

      1. CJ*

        If it prorated the salary requirement, there would no doubt be Mos everywhere having bright ideas like ‘Let’s structure and pay this role as PT, but oops, we need more work done and you’re non-exempt, I guess you’re doing 40 hours this week (most weeks) for $17,700 a year’.

  28. pally*

    Dear co-workers,

    Let’s “see how it plays out” with things before I forfeit any raise.
    /sarcasm off

    Looks to me like Mo is quite good at casting blame away from himself (who decided to give one person all the raise money anyway?) and avoiding managing things properly. If he doesn’t come through with raise money for the other employees, will there be an exodus? How will he manage that?

    1. Caliente Papillon*

      And of course these ridiculous coworkers wouldn’t push back on Mo making the dumbest statement ever! They just go to OP. I woulda been like so the four seniors managers who left, you gave all their salaries to OP?! That doesn’t seem like good business sense MO, why would you do that? These coworkers are the worst

  29. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Step 1: Ignore the letter. Call everyone’s bluffs.
    Step 2: Interview out.

    From what you’ve described, LW, to say this place is full of bees is to undersell the dysfunction.

  30. Alisaurus*

    Oh, there are so many things here…

    1. LW/coworkers being asked to volunteer unpaid work hours when this is very clearly a PT job where unpaid work would be illegal
    2. Mo blaming an employee vs just giving an answer
    3. Mo not wanting to pay employees fairly
    4. Employees blaming LW for advocating for herself vs realizing this is what happens when they “wait to see how things play out” and don’t participate (this feels like The Little Red Hen story)
    5. LW feeling guilty and like it’s only “right” to do what her coworkers are asking (which, to be clear, I do not blame LW for – toxic environments warp perspectives)

    Honestly, I’d keep the raise and updated assignments but still give notice and leave. (Also perhaps point out labor violations of volunteer work, but definitely leave.) LW says she can easily work for herself outside of the company… this isn’t going to get better, so I’d do that. ASAP. The coworkers want the money for raises? They can have it, and LW can be much happier.

  31. Anna*

    I get how the coworkers feel in this situation. If a part-time coworker got a 50% raise *and* a small number of the easiest tasks, while I got no raise and several of the most intensive tasks, I’d be pretty upset, too — and that is before considering Mo’s claim that there is no more money for raises!

    I wouldn’t sign a letter asking the coworker to take on more responsibilities and less pay, mainly because I don’t see how that would actually work, but the situation would absolutely negatively impact my respect for that coworker.

    1. Admin Lackey*

      Would the fact that she tried to organize everyone beforehand change your opinion? I think it would probably make me mad too, but I hope I would reflect on the fact that I didn’t join in her suggestion to push-back against the boss and that’s on me.

      I personally think it’s a bit galling that they weren’t willing to organize against someone in a position of power but were able to organize against their coworker, who has no power over them. I think this is going to be unsalvageable for LW, unless the coworkers are NOW willing to organize with her

      1. Anna*

        Honestly? That factor would worsen my opinion of her. I think it was reasonable for the group to say, hold on, let’s wait and see how bad this actually is before we rush straight to the nuclear option. It also gives you more information for negotiating, because now you know what the task and time demands actually are in practice, versus an estimation of change. But OP bypassed all of that and ultimately the consequence of her choice was her coworkers were put in a worse off position.

        1. Alisaurus*

          There was a draft plan, not just hearsay. The LW saw what was almost definitely going to be put on her plate and decided that wasn’t going to work for her. Just because you/her coworkers decided they wanted to wait and see how it officially happened doesn’t mean she was obligated to do the same. Everyone here is an adult and fully capable of making decisions that affect them.

          Just because you/the coworkers want to be passive doesn’t mean you get to be angry at the person who makes a decision and takes action.

        2. Dinwar*

          This is bizarre to me. If I was the LW’s coworker I’d already know that 1) they were fed up past the point of overcoming the inherent cultural inertia to not make waves, and 2) had already tried to in fact make waves. Unless I was the LW’s supervisor and directly told the LW to sit down and shut up, I’d have zero standing to expect the LW to act on anything I said. To not expect someone actively trying to change the situation to, well, actively try to change the situation would be illogical.

          Secondly, going to the boss and saying “If you want me to work more you need to pay me more” is hardly “the nuclear option.” It’s standard business practice. Even “If you do this I will quit” wouldn’t be a nuclear option–people quit all the time. And any work environment that causes you to think negotiating pay and leaving the company are somehow wrong is by definition toxic.

        3. Admin Lackey*

          “But OP bypassed all of that and ultimately the consequence of her choice was her coworkers were put in a worse off position.” This is Mo’s spin on the situation, but I suspect he’s lying. As other’s have pointed out, LW’s raise is likely not that much money and it feels like a convenient way to turn everyone against the LW.

          I understand where you’re coming from when you say you wouldn’t want one individual to bypass the group, but my understanding is that there was no group. A lot of people didn’t reply to LW’s message and the people who did reply didn’t ask LW to join them in their wait-and-see approach. Plus, in my experience, waiting to challenge a new system until after it’s implemented just creates a sunk-cost fallacy for management and makes them even more reluctant to back-track.

          Also, I don’t think that a person should have to wait for group consensus to advocate for themselves, because the consensus may never come. When faced with extra hours and tasks for no increase in pay (in a way that is possibly illegal), I think the LW was well within her rights to push back and while anger towards her may be understandable as a first reaction, it’s extremely unfair.

          What do you make of these arguments?

          And I don’t say any of this to be combative, I’m genuinely interested in your reasoning and I think if LW is reading the comments, this might be a useful insight into how her coworkers are feeling, justly or unjustly

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree. OP’s obligation is to themselves. There was no employee meeting, no group consensus to “wait and see” – it’s just what some individual responses indicated that others planned to do. So OP advocated for and got what they needed. That was exactly the right thing to do.

            1. Admin Lackey*

              Yeah, it’s a bit galling to see the coworkers ask for solidarity NOW, after the fact, when they weren’t willing to stand with the LW when she took the risk

              1. somehow*

                But it does make sense, no matter how galling.

                LW took a risk co-workers didn’t. LW benefited from the risk, and now co-workers feel a bit braver.

                I don’t they should have asked LW to deny the raise – hindsight is 20/20, after all – but to me, the toxicity likely is far deeper than what we know, which makes LW a ripe target (and wrongfully so).

                Mo is the sole problem here, in my opinion. LW and co-workers are just unfortunate cogs in Mo’s cruel wheel.

          2. Alisaurus*

            I thought about the sunk-cost fallacy after leaving my previous comment. It’s much easier to push back against a draft plan, which is usually issued so people can know what’s coming – and, in a business where the boss actually wants feedback on a proposed plan, speak up if something doesn’t work for them. It’s much easier to make changes to a proposed plan than to the one that’s been issued as a new policy/contract/etc and set in motion.

          3. umami*

            Agreed. OP put themselves on the line, and the consequence of that could have been myriad things, including being fired. OP took the risk and received the reward. The fact that Mo is framing it as OP’s fault that there aren’t funds for raises is … disingenuous at best.

          4. Anna*

            If I was in her coworkers’ position, none of those arguments would make a difference. Whether their reaction is logical/fair or not, at the end of the day the coworkers see only one thing: OP got a raise *and* less work *and* less unpleasant tasks, while they did not get a raise and got more work and more unpleasant tasks.

            And, again, whether this is logical/fair or not, I imagine some of them feel they were thrown under the bus or screwed over by OP. Because all they see is OP going to the boss after they said they wanted to wait, and then suddenly they’re put in worse off positions while OP gets a cushy setup by comparison.

            When you’re in a toxic work environment, there is honor and nobility in suffering together. OP broke away from the group and set herself apart in a bad way. Again, disregarding logic and fairness, her actions tell her coworkers she feels she’s too good to suffer with them. And I just don’t see her repairing her relationships with her coworkers after that, even if she helps them advocate for themselves.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              They’re allowed to feel however they want, but they’re still 100% wrong to blame the OP.

              Because all they see is OP going to the boss after they said they wanted to wait, and then suddenly they’re put in worse off positions while OP gets a cushy setup by comparison.

              If I were in that situation my thought would be “Oops, should have listened to OP”.

            2. OP*

              Thank you for explaining your perspective. To clarify though, my coworkers aren’t in a worse position, they are in the same position they would be in if I had done nothing.

        4. umami*

          The consequences weren’t of OP’s choosing. The coworkers are worse off because of Mo’s decisions, not because of OP advocating for herself.

        5. Jennifer Strange*

          Employees don’t need permission from their co-workers to advocate for themselves. The LW gave their co-workers to come along and they declined. That’s on them.

        6. Azars*

          No, they weren’t put in a worse position because Mo is obviously lying about the raise pool and trying to assign unpaid work. There’s no wait and see with something like that.

        7. Parakeet*

          Collective action to make demands for better conditions or against deteriorating ones is not a “nuclear option.” It’s the basic premise of labor organizing. And as plenty of people have pointed out, the coworkers sure seem to understand the power of collective action when it comes to being a jerk to a peer.

        8. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          It’s not the “nuclear option” to collectively sit down with Mo and say that there are concerns about how the workload is allocated and that if staff are expected to take on extra work, there is a reasonable expectation that they will be compensated for it. It doesn’t have to be adversarial. It can be people coming in to have a conversation in the wake of a huge change in the organization to figure out how to move forward, not threatening a mass exodus if demands aren’t met. If anything, it’s a kindness to tell management what it will take to keep you happy and committed to the organization, rather than planning your exit.

          It’s also a much weaker negotiating position if you’ve already taken on all the new tasks. At that point, staff would have to threaten to stop doing things. Has a very different vibe than coming in advance of changes to talk things through.

    2. Sharon*

      Wow. I would have more respect for someone who stood up for themselves and negotiated a mutually agreeable solution, not less. I might be mad at MYSELF for not doing the same. The person who deserves less respect is Mo, for trying to make the rest of the staff do his work for free.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Well, no. She saw the risks and determined that early advocacy before anything was “final” was the way to go, and asked others to come with. She did not ask Mo to do anything with regard to how her coworkers were compensated.

        It was the consequences of the co-workers choice that they were put in a bad position– the choice not to advocate early.

        More importantly, it was consequences of Mo’s choice that the coworkers were put in a bad position– he put them there! It was well within his power to tell LW that he couldn’t afford her requests, or that he needed to save money for others. He could have asked the coworkers if they had any concerns before finalizing details. He could have decided his final wasn’t final at all and re-opened his budget to account for the coworkers complaints.

        But fundamentally, doing nothing is also a choice with risks. The coworkers did nothing, and that turned out to be a bad move on their parts. If she hadn’t advocated for herself, all the coworkers would be in the same positions they are now– uncompensated for extra work.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I discovered recently that a colleague one job classification lower than me makes significantly more money than I do. Because she was coming in from outside and I was doing an internal move, she was able to negotiate salary and I wasn’t. I’m not mad at her, I’m happy she is being paid well. Though it helps that my pay is pretty reasonable.

    3. Janice*

      Her: “Hey, want to help talk to the boss about work allocation and pay?”
      You/coworker: “No, I’ll just wait and see how it pans out.”
      Her: *is the only one who talks to boss.
      Her: *is the only one who gets a raise and has had a say in work allocation.
      You/coworker: *shocked Pikachu face. “I did nothing and I got nothing good!”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “I’ll just wait and see how it pans out”

        *gestures widely* this is how it panned out

    4. mlem*

      You would disrespect a coworker for effectively advocating for herself while you and your other colleagues just left her to dry? Weird flex, but weird.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      50% of what? OP was working 8 hours a week for a nonprofit. 50% of that is not exactly untold riches. I don’t know if the FTEs are getting benefits, OP certainly wasn’t. I would sense a con job and be furious… at Mo. My respect for OP would not be impacted because OP did nothing wrong, and got a fair deal.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Ugh, I should stop commenting because my reading comprehension is not all that today – it was 16 hours and letter says nothing about a nonprofit. The rest of my point remains, though.

    6. Susannah*

      Why? Because LW took the risk of losing her job to get more money, while the rest stood aside meekly to see “how things play out?”

    7. Other Alice*

      Wow, no. LW isn’t taking anything away from the coworkers. The business here is at fault for refusing to compensate them fairly or divide the tasks in a more equitable manner. You really would resent a coworker for having a spine??

  32. Observer*

    OP, I’m going to disagree with Alison on one thing. Do not wait to see how it plays out. Start working on your exit strategy today. Do help people advocate for themselves if they will allow you to, but *get out*.

    This is an irretrievably broken workplace.

    On the one hand you have an owner manager that is *soo* toxic that he drove out for *co-owners*. If he could to that to people who have some power in the relationship, I can’t imagine how he’s treating everyone else.

    But we do have a couple of examples. First is his illegal demand that people “volunteer” to handle additional work tasks. Second is the fact he lied to people about the money available for raises (either he could allocate more money or the business is on the rocks), and threw you under the bus with your coworkers. This is not going to get better.

    On the other hand you have a set of coursework who, at best, have their norms and ideas about the workplace so warped by their abuse that they are swallowing the boss’ lies; refusing to try to advocate for themselves in any reasonable and meaningful fashion; and turning on you for having the audacity to advocate for yourself and for trying to climb out of the crab bucket*.

    I do feel bad for these people, but their behavior really stinks. *You* are not the problem. And there is nothing “fair” about taking on more work for less pay because your boss is a jerk and no one else is ready to do anything about it.

    Find another job or start your own business.

    * There is a fairly well know idea that when you have a bucket of crabs and one tries to climb out the others pull it back in instead of also trying to escape. That’s probably not factually accurate, but the concept is real,

    1. OP*

      Thank you for explaining, lots of people have mentioned crab buckets and I had no idea what that meant!

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      All of this. If Mo is as abrasive as he sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if he struggles to bring in business and maintain solid relationships with existing clients. Though maybe the nature of the organization means there’s limited damage he can do on that front, I don’t know.

      What’s the state of the business going to be in a year? Will there be layoffs because the number of staff needed to support the business that five co-owners bring in is way less than the number of staff needed to support the business with only one co-owner? Is Mo going to mismanage things to such an extent that the business fails?

      1. OP*

        Mo is actually brilliant at the actual work we do and very highly regarded in the field. Each person working for the business brings in a certain amount of money. Clients come and ask for a project, the more people we have the more projects we can do and the more profit we can make (assuming everyone is paid less than they bring in). I think layoffs are unlikley because the business would struggle to pay overheads that don’t necessarily change with reduced staff (like rent). I thought this would have been a good collective bargaining position because the business loses money for each person that leaves.

  33. Curious*

    Could some explain the letter to me to make sure I understand it? I want to respect LW’s privacy. I’m not asking what industry this is, I just want to understand.

    Does LW work the least number of hours doing tasks to are easy/don’t take much time or effort that ALSO brings in the most money?

    Do LW’s coworkers do labor and time intensive work that bring very little money?

    Please and thanks

    1. Sloanicota*

      I could imagine if LW’s in something like sales, she could be bringing in a large amount of business without too many hours, and not handling a bunch of other unpleasant tasks.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      LW pushed back against doing many hours of difficult tasks for no money.

      LW’s coworkers didn’t.

      LW wound up getting fewer tasks and a raise because she set her boundaries.

      LW’s coworkers got stuck with many difficult tasks and no raises because they didn’t ask for them when they had the chance.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        LW’s coworkers got stuck with many difficult tasks and no raises because they didn’t ask for them (when they had the chance.) during Mo’s arbitrary window for not getting schrod*.

        *which he can extend any time he wants.
        He can also increase the pot of money for raises, since he’s the sole remaining manager. Unless the company has no money…
        … in which case everyone should just go find new jobs because they won’t be working for Mo much Mo.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It sounds like OP brings in enough money during the other two days of work to more than cover her wage and also add value to the company. These additional tasks aren’t part of that calculation. OP negotiated for four hours of extra work instead of eight, so the tasks she got were less time consuming compared to the extra work coworkers got.

    4. OP*


      We work in a business were the client pays the company for individual projects that are relatively quick and easy to do. The faster you are able to do the projects, the more you can fit into your work week and the more money you bring to the company. The easy/low effort tasks were the new ones being assigned, things like unpacking the coffee and sugar when it is delivered. Hope that clears it up a bit.

      1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

        From other comments, you were getting $90k before the raise. Divided by 400 (50 weeks a year * 2 days a week * 8 hours a a day) that’s over $100/hour. It makes absolutely zero sense to be paying someone over $100 an hour to unpack coffee. It doesn’t even make sense to pay over $100 an hour for amateur accounting (since that’s what you / your coworkers would be doing, assuming your specialty isn’t accounting) services.

        Mo has absolutely no idea how to run a business and it’s just a matter of time before he drives this business into the ground. Get out now before he does.

        1. OP*

          I agree that it makes no sense to pay that rate to unpack coffee! Mo was doing all the work themselves for a few months until they cracked under the pressure and decided to distribute the tasks. The raise I asked for was kind of unrelated to the new tasks, more just reflective of what I needed to stay at the company in the wake of all the changes (and Mo agreed because I was still adding more value than my new pay rate).

          1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

            Let me reiterate: Mo has absolutely no idea how to run a business and it’s just a matter of time before they drive this business into the ground. Get out now before they do so.

  34. Goldenrod*

    Agree with everything Alison said, ESPECIALLY this:

    ” I’d be questioning whether there really isn’t enough money to pay them what their work is worth, given that four senior managers are no longer on the payroll.”

    We’ve heard so many stories on this site about managers claiming “there’s no money” for raises…and then, suddenly, having the money when it suits them.

    Mo is an unreliable source of information, and I would trust nothing he says.

    But also – I agree with the BEES thing. You can afford to wait and see how this plays out…and maybe it will work out, in the end….but the second you see BEES, run!!

  35. Something Wicked This Way Comes*

    Wow. My usual mantra is:

    Your company is not your family. Your boss is not your friend.

    I think I need to add an extra line.

    Your coworkers are not your friends. Are they willing to subsidize the extra daycare you will need to pay if you just take on the extra 3 days work and forego a raise? I bet not. I just looked up dyscalculia and apparently there is no treatment. So I’m not sure how you could be expected to do the math focused tasks you were originally assigned.

    I’m sorry to say that your coworkers are probably going to continue to resent you. Now may be a good time to dust off your resume and start looking for another job.

  36. NotRealAnonForThis*

    Upon seeing headline on a formerly bird related site – “hmmmm…I’m sure that the answer is “no”, let’s go read just to make sure I’m not missing something”

    Mid read – “Oh heeeeellllllll no.”

    Upon completion of read – “Oh heeeeellll no. Matter of fact, (expletive deleted) that noise, matter of fact, I’d really consider quitting because there’s no reason you should stick around this bee hive….”

  37. Juicebox Hero*

    The alarm bells started going off in my head at the very first sentence, where the other four senior managers quit because they couldn’t stand Mo and haven’t been replaced. How many more people is Mo going to drive off and try to foist their tasks off on everyone else for free? How long before the company itself goes under thanks to him?

    LW, good for you for standing up for yourself. But since you’d be able to work for yourself, I think you should get the heck out right now. Mo’s showing you what kind of person he is, and the kind of person he is sucks nuclear waste.

    1. Sage*

      I hope he doesn’t drive out anyone who signed that letter, so that the toxicity stays at that place.

      I am all for workers organizing for better work conditions, but seeing how unwilling they where to do so, and at the same time so willing to mob on LW, they are getting what they deserve.

  38. ijustworkhere*

    Not to mention that in some places it’s illegal to force workers to “volunteer” time to the organization especially if they are non exempt.

  39. Lily Potter*

    Unless I missed something, the LW’s co-workers don’t know the amount OR percentage of her raise. And under no circumstances should she let either be known.

    I’d tell my co-workers “Mo must have had a pretty small pot of money for raises this year, because what I got certainly wouldn’t go far spread among multiple people”. A 50% raise for someone working part-time .4 FTE isn’t likely to be a big dollar amount.

    Also, Mo sucks.

  40. Darkwing Duck*

    Mo sounds like a schmo. When you tell your fellow employees “If I took all the money for raises, then Mo was only going to pay us all only a few pennies an hour more.” and then do the math for them. If you got a 50% bump on your original 16 hours, and 4 hours at the new pay rate, give them exactly how much money that is, and then divide by 1200 (40 hours a week, 30 employees unless the average number of hours is lower) and see how few cents they would actually make per hour if the money was divided equally. Ask them if that’s enough to do the work, and if not, their complaint is with Mo.

    1. HonorBox*

      Great point. If it is, hypothetically, $20 hour increase, that’s basically $0.67/hour per person increase that would be available to each person. That isn’t going to be enough for people to be motivated to do the extra work they’re being assigned.

  41. Elsewhere1010*

    The idea that one person turning down a raise means that the money will be divided among the remaining employees is akin to the idea that the Blue Fairy will grant them their wishes.

    And Mo just doesn’t seem the Blue Fairy type.

  42. Berin*

    Here’s the thing – I’m pulling these numbers out of the clear blue sky, but let’s say that OP is making $40/hour, and is currently working 16 hours per week; this raise and increase in hours would take OP to $60/hour, working 20 hours per week. OP is going from $640/week to $1200/week, a difference of $560/week, or $29,120/year.

    Meanwhile, 4 (FOUR!!) senior partners have left in the last year. Unless those partners were collectively making less than $30k/year, there should be more than enough money for others to get raises.

    OP – I agree with Alison, and will also say that Mo is counting on this infighting – their resentment with you getting the raise that they refused to advocate and ask for, and your resentment with them pressuring you to take on more work for less money. I hope you update us, and that that update ends with your coworkers recognizing that you are not to blame and getting what they deserve from Mo.

  43. Pete*

    Mo probably had to take out loans (personal or business) to buyout the other owners and is on the edge of solvency.

    1. SarahKay*

      Okay, that’s speculation, but even if it is correct, what’s your advice for OP? Are you saying they should leave, because the business is at risk of shutting altogether? Or perhaps they should give up the raise in the (probably vain) hope that might save the business?

      I mean, I do think OP should leave but I think that because they are working for an awful person, and they have co-workers who are happy to organise against a fellow-worker but wouldn’t do so against the boss.

    2. Ferret*

      So what?

      I mean genuinely what does this completely speculative fanfiction do to change anything about the best course of action for LW or their colleagues

  44. kiki*

    Ahhh, this makes me so sad. I wish that LW’s coworkers could see that Mo is turning employees against each other rather than taking accountability for staffing and paying appropriately. I feel like I see variations of this often– “Oh we just can’t pay you more because X costs money!” But then the company just stopped paying for Y which is equal to 10X but mysteriously that 10X of funds is not available.

    1. Sloanicota*

      A few years back a place I worked said they had no money for COL adjustment the same year they were redecorating the office and adding a large central floating staircase. I … don’t work there anymore.

  45. Parenthesis Guy*

    I’m struggling to determine who is worse – the coworkers or Mo. Mo seems like a jerk, but these coworkers have gone well past banana pants and are on their way to full banana ensemble.

  46. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

    Your coworkers are scared. Mo knows it, and used it, very effectively. Mo is a gold-plated bleeping glassbowl and there is no way on God’s earth this workplace turns out OK for OP. Mo has made sure those folks won’t trust OP ever, and OP sure as bleep can’t trust MO to say the sky is blue, let alone with their livelihood. Get out as soon as humanly possible!

  47. Hannah Lee*

    Since OP can find work easily if they leave, and the chance of a positive outcome given Mo’s toxicity is slim to none, if I were OP, I’d be really tempted to send a link to this post/thread to everyone who signed off on that letter. Heck, all the people who work there.

    Maybe having the comments of a hundred plus people with no skin in the game all pointing out that MoITA and is likely also pressuring employees to do things that violate labor and wages laws may cause them to have a bit of a rethink. It may not change things enough to make OP want to stay, but it might be an awful lot of fun to see what happens next.

  48. road to joy*

    50% raise, spread out across 30 employees… there’s no way what Mo said is true, but if it is, get out now, the business is about to go under from cash flow problems.

    1. road to joy*

      Actually, on second thought, GET OUT NOW. Right now. You said you can take your skills elsewhere? Do that ASAP.

      This company just lost 4 senior people and the owner’s response was to demand that part time workers work without pay? And then pit the workers againts each other in a way that indicates that no one else’s salary will go u, and I imagine he’s also not hiring to replace these people?

      Get out get out get out.

  49. BellyButton*

    How in the world could a 50% raise for a part time employee cover a raise for 30 people!? Mo, expertly deflected all the attention to the LW, and the other employees are so up in arms about LW’s raise they are missing the real issues.

  50. 1-800-BrownCow*

    First off, Mo sucks.

    Secondly, I wonder how honest Mo was with what they said to the other employees to make them react the way they did.

    Lastly, I almost wonder if the other coworkers don’t know the whole story. Maybe I have too much faith in people being reasonable and nice in general, but it just seems off that almost the entire company signed the letter asking OP to not take the raise and volunteer to do more. And very cowardly to do so by letter

    I urge OP to speak with the group and make sure the stories are all straight. And Alison’s suggestions are good as well. Don’t give up on what you were able to negotiate, but definitely offer to help everyone else.

    And finally, Mo still sucks!

  51. HonorBox*

    Do not give up your raise. You asked and one was offered. Mo didn’t say, “well I only have ‘x’ to give” and you replied, “ok, I’ll take it all.” While Mo made the offer and has discretion over the amount available for raises, you did not know what that amount was. Mo is trying to make you the bad one, OP. And when you asked your coworkers for support, they didn’t want to lift a finger. So part of me says too little too late for them. It would be within your rights to let them know you didn’t ask for a specific amount and that Mo never indicated how much was available for raises, and then a kindness to point them in the direction of how to actually negotiate with Mo. But they have no right to expect that you’re going to give up what you were offered because of some arbitrary number that Mo had in mind for raises. Your coworkers suck and Mo sucks even more. Even suggesting that you got all the money and there wasn’t left for anyone else puts Mo in Worst Manager of the Year running.

  52. Maple Leaf*

    I would be super petty about it and have stuffed that letter into my purse, then claim to not have gotten it/played dumb (i.e. what letter) when asked about it, in order to force my coworkers to raise the issue to my face.

    PS – well done negotiating for yourself, be proud!

  53. Salsa Your Face*

    You are all frogs, and you have been boiled. Please leave this toxic workplace ASAP.

    1. Carmichael Lemon*

      Seriously… When LW said they were confident they could work for themselves, I was thinking they could also probably get a similar job somewhere else. Why stick around?

  54. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Your coworkers are too spineless to advocate for their own raise …. but they got together to demand you refuse yours?
    They united to punch you, whom they clearly regard as a “soft” target, but not to punch upwards at the real problem – the godawful manager Mo.
    They want to benefit from your risk-taking and negotiating skills, after having chickened out themselves. Ignore the cheeky sods!

    If they make life unpleasant, well, you posted that you could easily work for yourself, so I recommend you start preparing to do this – especially since Mo may be rapidly driving the business into the ground and everyone’s jobs may soon go anyway.

  55. Anne Shirley*

    I would love (in a morbidly curious kind of way) to hear Mo explain what happened to four (presumably full-time) salaries. Double-talk, obfuscation, contradiction, and redirection would no doubt ensue.

  56. ElizabethJane*

    Also if you’re working 2 days a week even if you’re making $100 an hour and got a 50% raise, “all of the raise money” is a grand total of $800/week.

    I’m betting OP isn’t working for $100/hour though, because at that price childcare would be worth it. So let’s call it 30. OP was working 2 days a week at $30 an hour so that’s $580. Now she’s getting $45/hr for 2.5 days which is $900 a week.

    All of the raise money is now $320 total per week.

    Really Mo? Really? And employees. Critical thinking will help you here.

    1. mlem*

      I really want to know what the 50% is *of*. Because it could also work like this:
      – LW works 16 hours for a “salary” of $240/week. (My company pays part-timers a pro-rated salary rather than an hourly rate.)
      – LW’s “salary” is increased to $360/week and office time to 20 hours per week. That takes the LW from a rate of $15/hour to a rate of $18/hour (so, not a 50% increase of hourly wage but of income including additional hours), and it’s a whopping $80/week to split amongst ~30 coworkers.

      LW should not give up $80/week so everyone else can get $2.66 (because you know Mo rounds down) more per week.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        that’s also a distinct possibility. it’s also highly likely that LW isn’t making anything in the realm of even $30/hr.

        like in no world is “all the raise money” as much as the coworkers seem to think it is.

        1. OP*

          Hey guys,

          At our company, we’re highly trained and experienced specialists, so we’re well paid for the work we did. Annually, I was on about $90k for the two days a week, and then got a raise of almost $45k. So, assuming the money was equally divided, it would have been about $1500 per person per year.

          1. Boris the Lady*

            OP, it’s time for you to leave and start your own firm (regardless of whether it’s a law firm or not, but this all sounds very law-like to me). You know how to be a rainmaker. It sounds like you’re someone clients in your field respect. I’m imagining other firms respect your work, so you could pick up contract work if you don’t want to hang your shingle right away. You’ve got this.

  57. Khatul Madame*

    Mo is a terrible boss.
    Coworkers are angry at LW and it is unclear how they’ll take to self-advocacy for better pay. Right now her workplace is toxic and this is unlikely to change.
    LW doesn’t like the additional tasks she’s been voluntold to do.
    If LW were let go, she could easily replace the income doing the same work as self-employed.
    LW is hourly and part-time, so I am guessing benefits are minimal or non-existent.

    I really don’t see the reason for the LW to continue working for Mo.

  58. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

    Mo threw OP entirely under the bus. Four senior people leave, aren’t replaced, and there’s no money to compensates people taking on that work? Total BS.

    Mo has shown you exactly who and what he is. Do not trust him.

  59. Sunflower*

    Are people really that easily led? How could they just believe Mo, knowing what they know of him, and not realize that you getting a fairer deal isn’t the cause of them accepting an unfair one? This is what no class consciousness does to a person.

  60. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

    So, they were too lazy to advocate when LW stepped up, but now they want her to give up the money she fought for by herself?

    Ahaha, no. They got whst they asked for: nothing.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      It sounds like they also asked, just after LW did. They waited until seeing what their new assignment were which is a very reasonable and normal time to try to renegotiate their salaries.

      They are wrong to blame OP, but they are very much being screwed and deserve to be angry about it.

      1. OP*

        I don’t know if this matters, but we were issued new contracts that outlined the new expectations. I negotiated and Mo and I had a new contract drawn up, which I signed. My coworkers signed the original contracts, then asked for a raise. I don’t blame them for waiting or for asking for a raise (or for being angry), but it wasn’t that they waited to see what their new assignments were. They accepted the new assignments, signed the contract, and then asked for a raise. In my view, it would have made more sense to ask before signing, but I’m happy to learn otherwise if people think differently.

  61. starsaphire*

    This reminds me a whole lot of an old Anthony Trollope novel – there are a dozen or so dependents living in a care home, and they have a caretaker who receives X amount of money per year from a charity trust.

    Reformers start going after the charity and the caretaker, and they use the press to convince the residents that they will get the $ for themselves if they just band together and petition to get rid of the caretaker.

    So they do, and surprise, the $ just disappears. (I can’t remember if the entire charity goes away and the residents are turned out, too, but that would be a very standard ending for a Victorian novel.)

    Funny thing, mob mentality… you can almost always figure out what’s really going on if you look behind the mob to see who’s driving them.

    1. londonedit*

      Sounds to me like the ‘We send £350 million a week to the EU. Let’s spend it on the NHS instead’ bus that the Leave campaign brought out in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. Guess what? There’s no £350 million a week for the NHS and there never was.

  62. Boof*

    Op, your asks/boundaries are totally appropriate and good for you for sticking to them. By all means continue to be a shining example on how to stick up to mo and encourage your coworkers to do so. Do not let him proxy bully you into seeing your kids less and losing money for his businesses benefit. Dust off the resume now and keep making it clear to your coworkers mo has all the power and can totally decide just how much money there is for raises (Doubt he’s given open book Spreadsheets, including mo’s own salary, on there actually being zero extra money for anything else – and if so still bail to a more financially stable and less toxic org).

  63. So f-ng anonymous for this one*

    the biggest stressor of my managerial position is that my best employee of eight years (yes, a rock star) is on “soft” money. Those funds are drying up and I am the point that there is just no money in my various pots and have quarterly meetings with finance on the 5 figure deficit that I have been accruing.
    I met with my financial advisor and was seriously considering taking a chunk of my retirement funds and setting up a foundation grant to fund the position.
    (this is a big university but each department has to “float their own boat”)
    I was actually going to ask about this on the Friday thread.
    Although it seems this is feasible, it strikes me as a bit absurd that I should pay a staff position out of my own pocket.

    I spoke to a few trusted advisors (each one thought my solution was ridiculous) They said set up a meeting with the finance officer and my director. Inform them that this situation in unsustainable, ask them what they suggest should be done.
    Then say nothing.
    I did this.
    In that “say nothing” time. They discussed a possibility of funding the position from “a fund unknown to me and not in my department” and setting up a meeting with the dean as yes, this is an essential position and an outstanding employee. They will figure this out and it isn’t my concern anymore.
    When I tell you this has been YEARS of stress, I am not exaggerating.

    I keep forgetting- my job is not my life, my co-workers are not my family. Leave work at work.

    1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      It would never happen, but the solution is easy: cut the salary of the Executive Vice Assistant Provost for Academic Sustainability by half. That would fund your employee’s salary and benefits for the next ten years.

  64. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    Another vote for getting away. I honestly can’t be upset at the coworkers too much. I get why they wrote the letter.

    But Mo… Oh my. You need to run not walk away from this person.

  65. Humpty Dumpty*

    Oooooh, what a nasty situation! First off, well done for standing up for yourself and negotiating a solution.

    Mo put all of you in a difficult position and then tried to shift the blame by publicly sharing that “one employee had taken all the money allocated for raises”.

    The general company culture seems to be one of blaming others for individual responsibility! Both Mo and your colleagues are doing this!!

    I would not join them in passing the blame, but instead taking the high road of being friendly, helpful and kind but not blame the company or colleagues in any way.

    I would definitely not say to your colleagues that this is the only way that you could keep the job. You really don’t need to explain yourself here! These are colleagues, you are not their parent or family. They’re adults who can look after their own agreements.

    If anything, I would ignore the letter and just be a good, helpful colleague as you no doubt were already. But don’t feel that you need to be apologetic or back down on your agreement.

    If anyone asks you directly, you can say that you found the only possible solution that worked for you without further elaborating on your pay, hours or responsibilities.

    You defended yourself rightfully to Mo when presented with a tough situation and your colleagues would be real bastards if they keep on holding this against you.

    If the work atmosphere becomes bad and stays that way after several months, you can always quit and and start working for yourself.

  66. Sara*

    If it’s an option to resign, I would just go ahead and do that now. Not even mostly because of the coworkers but because a company that has assigned payroll and accounting tasks at random to an employee with no skills/training in that area is soon going to be one that is not paying employees/bills/taxes. I doubt it is possible that this place will stay solvent for long.

    1. Observer*

      That’s a really good point. The rest of it is so nuts that it’s easy to overlook. But you are right. Even without the rest of the craziness, this is enough to sink the company.

  67. Zarniwoop*

    “Yesterday I arrived at my desk to find a letter, signed by almost all the other employees”
    Do you know your coworkers’ signatures well enough to be sure they’re genuine and not forged by Mo?

  68. Quill*

    Adding to the consensus that Mo sucks, but I do wonder if he decided to frame the new (unpaid!) work the way he did in the hopes that the employees would fight each other for actual compensation instead of realizing that someone was getting paid to do the work beforehand, so where did that money go?

  69. Sugarplum Visionary*

    Recommended reading for your colleagues who now want a piece of the payroll pie (YOUR raise!) for which they themselves refused to advocate: “The Little Red Hen.”

    And Mo may not be a candidate for the WORST boss of the year, but he’s certainly bucking for that title! He’s also bucking for a major legal headache if he thinks that it’s just ducky to try to make his employees work without pay (Alison has written repeatedly about this: a workplace is not a block party and anyone working in it must. be. paid.!)

    Mo is a shining success in ONE way: he’s devastating employee morale and doing his very best to turn all his employees against each other. He deserves everything that his behavior will net him!

    1. Zarniwoop*

      Unlike in “Little Red Hen” they have the option of trying again. Mo caved when LW stated her requirements, why shouldn’t it work for them too?

  70. HearTwoFour*

    OP, Mo took this move right out of the playbook of a certain former president – deflect negative attention from himself by creating a false enemy. Not only should you take the raise, you now know how easy it is to manipulate your coworkers. Turn the tables on Mo with the same strategy.

  71. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Resign. (I don’t normally jump to that as a first step, but I think all reasonable possibilities have been exhausted already). Set up by yourself and succeed or fail on your own merits instead of as part of this crappy company. I bet it is not thriving as a business anyway.

    (From your colleagues perspective, your entire salary will now be available for re-distribution! They are about to get a lesson in “be careful what you wish for” in terms of how their future workload and success of the company will go.)

  72. Keymaster of Gozer*

    You’ve got a war going on that you can’t win. Management is actively encouraging dissent among the staff and your coworkers are blaming you for trying to speak up. Not to mention the financial warning signs (if one person’s raise means nobody else can have ANY that’s either bad accounting or lies).

    It’s like a disfunctional family where one child has been selected to be the perpetual screw up. No matter what happens, what they achieve or what they say they’ve made life harder for everyone else somehow.

    You can’t fix this, all you can do is have robust coping mechanisms (like not caring what others think of you) or leave the situation.

  73. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    “However, I also think that taking on more tasks and less money is the Right Thing To Do, in that it would be fairer.”

    It is not the responsibility of employees to make the workplace fair. That is 100 percent on management. It is perfectly acceptable for each employee to advocate for themselves and collectively, for all employees. This is accomplished by negotiating, formally or informally, with employers for better situations for the group or individually. Never lose sight of this.

    This is one of the reasons I warn people about getting too friendly with coworkers. It can blur the lines of employer/employee relationships.

  74. MCMonkeyBean*

    I know people write in all the time asking if very normal business things are legal–but isn’t this a case where it actually is illegal and the employees need to push back? Isn’t it illegal to require employees to “volunteer” to perform normal business tasks? If that wording from the letter is literally how the boss presented it to them that seems like a pretty clear case to me.

    1. OP*

      “Volunteer” may have been the wrong word. We were issued new contracts that outlined the additional tasks we were expected to take and there was no change to rate of pay. I guess it was more of a change in duties and a paycut?

  75. Panhandlerann*

    “The Little Red Hen” comes to mind concerning your fellow employees. But beyond that, Mo is a complete jerk.

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