Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CEO Pay Out of Control ! Even During Bad Times !

Executive PayWatch: CEO Perks Rise as Workers’ Wages, Jobs Wilt...
by James Parks, Apr 14, 2009

Even as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, the median salary for CEOs of 200 large corporations increased by 4.5 percent to $1.08 million. On top of that, these corporations keep plying executives with generous freebies, despite the public outcry over private jets and other executive perks.The 2009 AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch site, which launches today, points out that the perks for executives rose on average by 12.5 percent in 2008 to $336,248—or nine times the median salary of a full-time worker. Even more appalling is the practice of rewarding executives who drive their companies into the ground. For example, the site reports that in 2007—the year the financial crisis began to unfold—the top 10 recipients of the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) collectively paid their CEOs a combined $242 million in total annual compensation. That averages nearly $25 million per CEO to run companies that might have gone bankrupt if not for billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.The PayWatch site also features an e-mail action. Click here to send a letter to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairmen of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, respectively. Let them know we’re counting on them to draft legislation that truly strengthens our financial regulations and begins curing the disease that has infected our economic system.This year’s Executive PayWatch highlights 10 case studies that show the multiple ways CEOs profited big time, while the average worker could barely hang on. There is the well-known case of AIG, which has been kept afloat by more than $170 billion in federal assistance—about $1,500 for every household in the nation—and still paid out more than $500 million in salaries and bonuses to hundreds of senior employees.Here are other prime examples in the case studies of corporate failure: While retirees worry over the fate of Deere & Co.’s pension surplus, which is shrinking because of stock market losses, the value of Deere CEO Robert Lane’s retirement income increased $5.5 million in fiscal 2008 to $22.5 million. Lane and other senior executives participate in not one but three different pension plans. SunTrust Bank, which received $4.9 billion from the federal bailout fund, wants shareholders to approve a mega-grant of $7.7 million in stock options for James Wells, its chairman and chief executive officer, even as investors have lost billions. While workers who are laid off in these tough economic times are lucky if they receive anything more than their last paycheck, Richard Bond, who retired as CEO of Tyson Foods in January, stands to collect more than $14 million in “golden parachute” severance payments. Want to know what your CEO made last year? The Executive Paywatch site offers three user-friendly ways to find out. And if you want to have a little fun at the CEO’s expense, play the “Boot The CEO” game and kick the money out of the greedy CEO’s hands.

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