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“No pain, no gain,” say the fitness folks. But – ouch! – this old exercise cliché has been badly twisted by many of America’s top CEOs, who are getting gains from our pains.
A new survey finds that corporate chieftains who inflict economic pain on the company’s workers receive more financial gain for themselves. The Institute for Policy Studies examined the layoff/payoff records of America’s 500 largest corporations during the past couple of years. IPS researchers report that the 50 CEOs who fired the most rank-and-file employees averaged 42-percent higher pay than their peers, averaging an extra $3.5 million each.
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One of the champions in this contest of convoluted corporate compensation was Mark Hurd. As chief executive of computer giant Hewlett-Packard, Hurd dumped 6,400 workers in 2009 – a year in which he pocketed a paycheck of $24.2 million. Earlier this year, Hurd was forced to resign from HP after an internal investigation found that he falsified some expense reports. No need to weep for Mark, though – he was comfortably compensated for this bad turn of fortune, receiving a severance package reportedly worth $40 million.
Being bad, you see, can be awfully good for a CEO’s bottom line. For example, IPS documented one category of badness-to-goodness that is especially infuriating. Five of the 50 leading pink-slip issuers last year were also bailout barons. Among them was Kenneth Chenault, honcho of American Express, which got $3.4 billion from us taxpayers in 2008 to save it from financial ruin. In gratitude, Chenault subsequently offed 4,000 employees, then helped himself to a paycheck of nearly $17 million, including a $5 million cash bonus.
To see the full IPS report, Titled “Executive Excess 2010,” and to help stop the excess, go to www.ips-dc.org.
“CEOs lay off thousands, rake in millions, www.msnbc.com, September 1, 2010.
“Hidden Corporate Scandal: CEOs Who Laid Off the Most Workers Rake in the Most Treasure,” www.alternet.org, September 1, 2010.