Economy

Leaders Of US Chamber Awarded Themselves Record Compensation While Slashing American Jobs

Today, President Obama addressed the leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a highly ideological right-wing trade association representing mostly large international corporations. Obama urged the audience of business executives to “get in the game” and spend some of the trillions of dollars corporations have compiled in the past year on job creation. Indeed, much of the executive leadership of the Chamber has spent the past few years rewarding themselves with millions in additional compensation while eliminating American jobs.

Trucking Manufacturer Navistar Inc Is On The US Chamber’s Board Of Directors:

— In 2010, Navistar CEO Daniel Ustian increased his total compensation by 27%, from $6.64 million in FY 2009 to $8.43 million in the year that ended October 31. The company has enjoyed healthy profits: in 2009, it earned $320 million, or $4.46 a share, and in 2010, it made $223 million, or $3.11 a share.

— Navistar has slashed jobs at factories across the country. In Springfield, Ohio, Navistar laid off 250 workers from a truck assembly plant. At its plant in Arkansas, the company laid off 477 in 2009 after letting 300 workers go in 2008. Amid the layoffs and plant closures, Navistar, a major military contractor, opened a new factory in Mexico last year.

Telecommunications Giant AT&T Is On The US Chamber’s Board Of Directors:

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was awarded a compensation package valued at $20.3 million in 2009, a jump of 35% from 2008. Last year, AT&T devoted an extra $8.99 million into Stephenson’s pension plan, ensuring that his retirement will include a pension “equal to 60 percent of his highest average salary and bonus in three of his last 10 years at the company. Although he’s not currently eligible for retirement, his pension is valued at an estimated $31 million today.”

— In recent years, AT&T has aggressively downsized its American workforce. In 2008, the company killed over 16,000 jobs as the recession hit. But in the last two years as AT&T enjoyed record profits, the company announced layoffs of “hundreds” in Kansas, 96 in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 150 in Connecticut, 525 technicians in California, and 140 jobs in Oklahoma.

Agricultural Manufacturer Deere And Co. (John Deere Company) Is On The US Chamber’s Board Of Directors:

Samuel Allen, the CEO and Chairman of Deere and Co., was awarded a compensation package in 2010 three times the size of his pay in 2009. Allen’s compensation was $12.29 million in 2010.

As Deere and Co. recorded high profits, the company slashed jobs. The company killed 367 jobs in East Moline, Illinois, 325 in Iowa, and 89 jobs in North Dakota.

Health Insurance Company WellPoint Is On The US Chamber’s Board Of Directors:

In recent years, WellPoint has reported record profits and extraordinary executive compensation. In 2009, WellPoint CEO Angela Braly was awarded a 51% compensation boost from $8.7 million in 2008 to $13.1 million.

— During the same period of high profits and highly compensated executives, WellPoint shed thousands of jobs. In 2009, WellPoint laid off 1,500 employees across the nation. Following the first round of layoffs, the company got rid of an additional 136 jobs in Missouri and 111 in Wisconsin. Notably, during this same period WellPoint’s trade association secretly transfered $86 million to the Chamber to fight health reform.

Despite bloated rhetoric about the virtues of “free enterprise,” the Chamber demanded taxpayer bailouts for its bank members (AIG, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.), billions in taxpayer money for its defense contract members, taxpayer money for cleaning up BP’s oil spill, and preferential tax cuts for its millionaire executives.

As ThinkProgress has documented, the Chamber has a history of being singularly focused on boosting profits, not creating American jobs. The Chamber has pushed for unfettered free trade deals, sponsored a series of conferences to teach businesses how to outsource jobs to China, and even lobbied against legislation that would have created over 1.7 million jobs.

Several dozen protesters demonstrated in front of the Chamber today as Obama walked across Lafayette Park from the White House to the business lobby. Watch a video produced by ThinkProgress interns Kevin Donohue and Paul Breer:

— Lee Fang, Zaid Jilani, Kevin Donohue and Paul Breer

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Lori says, “I was one of those 16,000 laid off by ATT in 2009. ATT laid off 5K in 2008, right before Xmas. I remember at the time, right when the 2008 lay-offs were beginning, that our Director spoke to us on a conference call about Stephenson’s big concerns were at the time. Apparently, he was concerned that no one would ride in the elevator with him. The story went that he got on the elevator and the first time the elevator stopped, everyone that had been on the elevator when Stephenson got on, got off – even though buttons had been pushed for floors that had not been reached yet. Stephenson’s solution? He encouraged all of the people on his ‘team,’ VP’s most of them, to impede on rank-and-file employee’s breaks in the cafeteria by sitting down with them and starting conversations. Randall Stephenson – winning hearts and minds wherever he goes! These are the minds that run our largest corporations today. Morons.”