A new plan for layoffs at Circuit City is openly targeting better-paid workers, risking a public backlash by implying that its wages are as subject to discounts as its flat-screen TVs.The company is calling the layoffs their "wage management initiative," which is the polite way of saying they just gave 3,400 employees the shaft.
The electronics retailer, facing larger competitors and falling sales, said Wednesday that it would lay off about 3,400 store workers - immediately - and replace them with lower-paid new hires as soon as possible.
The laid-off workers, about 8 percent of the company's total work force, would get a severance package and a chance to reapply for their former jobs, at lower pay, after a 10-week delay, the company said.
"I don't think it's fair," said Hamilton Smith, an 88-year-old retired federal worker who had just purchased some batteries at Circuit City. "You need to give people a living, working wage." He said he would think twice before shopping at the company's stores again.Circuit City was hardly paying living wages. The retailer pays about $10 to $11 an hour on average, and entry level pay is closer to $8 for inexperienced workers.
Of course, Chief Executive Officer Philip Schoonover does a little better. He made $8.52 million in fiscal 2006, including a salary of $975,000.