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Devils, 76ers owner changes tune, not reducing employee salaries

Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Apparently, bullying on Twitter works.

After it was reported that employees of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils were going to receive a pay cut amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) will not go through with those reductions, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

It was originally reported by Marc Stein of the New York Times that at-will employees — those that can be fired at any time for almost any reason — who make $50,000 or more were going to experience a 20% reduction and work a four-day schedule beginning April 15 and going through June. The decision was obviously met with an overwhelming amount of backlash from social media, especially when considering Devils and Sixers owner Josh Harris has a net worth of $3.7 billion.

Devils team president Jake Reynolds and 76ers president Chris Heck, along with GM Elton Brand and HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil were also expected to see their salaries cut. 

“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season,” Harris said in a statement. “After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. This is an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most of us have ever lived through before — and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

Hourly employees working in New Jersey’s Prudential Center and Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center will continue to get paid. Though workers in the 76ers and Flyers’ venue will only get checks for two weeks.

For Prudential Center employees, hourly staff will be compensated for all postponed games and events. 

Like all major sporting and special-event venues, the coronavirus outbreak has had a damaging impact. Without games or concerts, arenas and stadiums are losing money every day while not having an opportunity to bring in any sort of revenue.

The original notion of these cuts, which were unanimously agreed upon, per Abbey Mastracco of USA Today, was believed to ensure that there would have been no layoffs.

76ers star center, Joel Embiid, said he will donate $500,000 to coronavirus relief while helping those workers who are experiencing pay cuts, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The NBA and NHL regular seasons were halted on March 11 and 12 following the coronavirus outbreak, which began in the professional sporting world with the infection of Utah Jazz star center Rudy Gobert.

Numerous athletes in both leagues have since tested positive for COVID-19, which continues to sweep throughout the United States. 

According to CNN, there are 43,925 reported cases in the country with 547 confirmed deaths as of Tuesday afternoon. 

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