Something’s out of Whack
It’s getting hard to continually read reports about manufacturing plants closing or moving overseas, and mass layoff’s among hourly workers in one paragraph, while seeing the latest mind boggling bonus paid to the architect of the decisions that caused the closings and layoff’s in the next. In 2006, the average corporate CEO made 400 times the average workers salary, up from 20 times the average workers salary in the late 1960’s.
Today I read about the bonuses paid to Chrysler Executives. In 2006, Chrysler lost 1.5 Billion dollars. What course of action does top management take? They award themselves over 6 million in bonuses and “phantom” stock, while awarding hourly workers with buyouts, layoffs and plant closings. It’s no better at Ford and General Motors. Rick Waggoner received over 3 Million in bonuses and options, while Alan Mullaly received over 20 Million just to come to work at Ford; and had to be shamed into flying first class at company expense instead of taking a private jet at company expense. The King of Corporate Excess 2006 is former Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli, who received a 210 Million dollar severance package while Home Depot lost market share and stock value on his watch. By any reasonable standard, Nardelli was far less than successful.
Certain questions begged to be asked: How much healthier would Home Depot or any of the aforementioned companies be if the guys at the top had been satisfied with “only” their multi-million dollar salaries? How much better off would these companies be if each executive’s compensation was tied to his performance? How much could have been gained had that money been invested in Market Research and Development? Sadly these are only a few of many examples in today’s culture of corporate abuse.
Now, before my fellow union members think they are going to escape unscathed let me say a few words about hourly worker accountability. As health care costs rise—Let me take a side road here. Remember when the family Doctor lived in your town and not in a gated drive McMansion?—it is important for people to realize that an Emergency Room doctor is not supposed to be your primary care physician. I understand that people need a “mental health” day every once in a while, but this doesn’t need to become a way of life.
I could go on and on about what the average guy on the line could be doing to help the bottom line, but let’s face it, accountability begins at, and examples come from, the top. I don’t believe in, and would never advocate, externally imposed wage limits for anyone, but I do believe that corporations need to be more fiscally responsible and show a great deal of concern for the people whose work provides the production that allows such executive compensation.
Mike McColgan, who fronts one of my favorite bands, Street Dogs, wrote a spoken word piece that sums up the feelings of many blue collar guys. Once again, Mike is a lot further left than I am, but I get his meaning.
Today’s organized worker is an endangered species. For corporate terrorism is cloaked in the guise of fiscal downsizing amidst a company recording huge profits. For today’s worker, fair and humane treatment with adequate wages is now just an old memory nailed into an outdated history book. This doesn’t help the current masses of mistreated workers, who are unable to organize because of fear of reprisals from profit hungry greedsters Ala Gordy Gecko.
How do these CEO thugs and mobsters in good conscience export American jobs day after day?
How much is enough?
Or to these robber barons is there such a thing or a concept of enough?
How many cars do you need?
How many boats?
How many houses?
How many financed mistresses?
How do you look in the mirror?
How can you sleep at night?
Well just remember this, all that you self-righteously stand for…
We will fight!