Some little while ago there was a big hoo ha about how the execs at some companies were, well basically, reaping it in while the employees were out on a limb, or worse, out of a job. And all this while these same companies were sinking faster than the Titanic.
Well, it would seem that little has changed (why am I not surprised).
Around here (North Carolina), two of the biggest power utilities, Duke and Progress Energy have merged (to become one humungous one, but that’s another issue). The CEO of Progress Energy, one Bill Johnson was to take over the combined company but he resigned on day one!
So OK, you decide the job’s not for you after all. Hey, I get it, we all make mistakes like that. You take a job then realize it’s not quite what you expected or wanted and so rather than flogging a dead or dying horse, you get out quickly and go find something else.
But you know, every time I have ever left a job, I have never received anything more than basically any holiday pay that was due to me and my salary up until my departure date. That’s been it. It always seemed fair to me, after all, why would they pay me NOT to be there.
Bu it seems that, as described in this story, When your name is Bill Johnson, and when you are the (now ex) CEO of a large utility company and you decide to resign, even on day one, you get one HELL of big pay check, and I quote from said story:
- $7.425 million, the equivalent of three years salary
- $1.375 million, the equivalent of a one year cash bonus
- $1.5 million in a “parachute” payment
So let’s see here, this guy ‘earns’ 2.4 MILLION bucks a year, not a bad little number. He gets a one year bonus, presumably for NOT being there, and a parachute payment for leaving.
Hell, if I had that sort of parachute payment to look forward to for quitting, I’d be gone tomorrow, never mind the rest.
In comparison, this merger resulted in many people (in the hundreds) losing their jobs. You can bet they did not get three years salary, a bonus and parachute payment to keep them going for a while. I believe they did get ‘something’ but we are not talking apples to apples here, more like melons and grapes!
But here’s where it really stinks in my opinion, and it’s not just limited to Mr Johnson’s fine example. Businesses will tell you that these ‘execs’ deserve all that pay and bonuses because they operate at a different level (ain’t that the truth) from ‘the rest of us and thus have to be rewarded differently. Well, you know, the last time I had a poor annual review at work, I didn’t get a raise and while part of me says that that sucks, I can see a certain ‘fairness’ in it. However these jokers seem to get a raise anytime the sun comes up.
Businesses will tell you that they need these people, that they are important and that ‘might’ be true or it might be total BS (I suspect the latter). But with VERY FEW exceptions (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford), very few of these execs have every actually had to lay it all on the line. They climb the corporate ladder and pat themselves on the back at how clever and important (the think) they are.
I am not saying though that having good leaders is not important, but you know what, so is having good employees. The guy that cleans the office at night or the toilets is just as important as they guy at the helm. Just look at any city when the garbage guys go on strike. It does not take long (especially in summer) for the trash to pile up and become, not only a stinking mess, but a serious health hazard as well. Don’t think the garbage guys are important? Stop paying them for a while and see what happens to your standard of living!
And that’s my point, a company is not the guy at the top, nor is it the guy at the bottom. It is everyone involved. Those execs with their fancy bonus payments and stock options are worth nothing at all without the people below them to do the actual real work. Just as a ship without a captain is probably going to go aground, the captain of a ship without a crew is the captain of nothing.
I find it abhorrent that in today’s economy with so many people out of work and struggling to just survive, that someone would get paid ten million dollars for QUITTING their job, even more so after only ONE DAY! Even worse is that this guy and those around him seem to think that this is actually fair!
The same applies to the salaries and bonuses these execs pay themselves. Who the hell (and I don’t care who it is) is worth (or needs) two million dollars, and sometimes a lot more, a year? And for what? Standing on the shoulders of others.
Now you might argue that I might have a different opinion if I was one of those execs, getting all that money. And I cannot say I would not agree with you in that case. But the reality is that I don’t NEED two millions dollars a year, or three or four or a ten million buck payout for quitting my job (it does make you wonder though what you’d get for actually staying on and DOING the bloody job!). Would three or four million dollars be nice? Of course it would but what does it really give me other than a certain ‘stability’, and I guess people with money probably worry just as much about losing it as those without it do about actually acquiring it. Funny old world isn’t it?
Mr Johnson will probably walk into another high paying executive job pretty quickly. I guess he really does get to have his cake and eat it. I’d be more impressed if both Mr Johnson, and the board that sanctioned this ridiculous payout were to use that money instead to help those other workers that had to leave this new joint company through no fault of their own. They did not have a choice. At least Bill Johnson did.
Maybe I expect too much. OK, I KNOW I expect too much but it’s time that the business leaders of this country started to realize that treating the people of this country like disposable and replaceable assets is a road paved with failure. After all, when no one has job, who will buy your products.
The other thing to remember is that the last time someone treated the people this country unfairly, they declared their Independence. Just because you happen to stand on the same soil as the rest of us does not mean that it cannot and will not happen again.