Republic Windows Labor Union Sit In, Bank of America, and the opportunity for good public relations

Bank of America has got itself in a pickle. If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that due to the cutting off a line of credit for a Chicago window company, a couple hundred union workers were cut without the 60 day notice they are supposed to receive, according to their contract. Therefore, they are staging a peaceful sit-in, asking for what’s theirs. Media and big-profile folks have descended on the location. The governor of Illionois will no longer do business with B of A. Even President-Elect Barack Obama has talked about it.

Technically, it might not have been the responsibility of Bank of America to pay the workers but they missed a brilliant marketing opportunity (let alone humanitarian cause).

Follow the math

There are 200 workers who were denied  two-months of severance. According to wikipedia answers, the average pay of an electrical worker is between $15 and $26 per hour.  (I used that example pay scale because the workers in question are members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.)

Let’s presume they were paid $20 per hour, which would be in the middle of the range. Let’s also presume they work 40 hours per week. That means, they get paid $800 per week. That works out to be about $3,500 per month or $7,000 for the two month period.

If there are 200 workers x $7,000, that works out to be about $1,400,000 total payroll. Add in SSI and other taxes, and you’re maybe at $1.6M to be paid out to the employees.

The average ad for national TV spot is about $1.5M. Remember that.

What would have happened if, instead of thinking the way B of A did, they paid out the severance and said, “We’re not even sure we were supposed to, but in light of the holidays, the economy, and our own belief in doing the right thing, we did it anyway.” How much positive publicity could they have received as opposed to the tsunami of bad publicity they’re getting now. They could have taken all this great press, put it into ads and the free coverage alone would have made up for at least the cost of one TV commercial.

B of A was short-sighted; they missed a brilliant marketing opportunity — as well as the chance to do the right thing.

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~ by scottqmarcus on December 8, 2008.

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