In the wake of the Great Recession, wages have stagnated while CEO pay has soared. Case in point, Sears last year paid its chief executive millions of dollars, and piled on hundreds of thousands of dollars in assorted perks, including charter airfare and covering some of his income tax bill:
Sears Holdings Corp. paid its chief executive $9.9 million last year, including incentives the ailing department store operator offered to lure the former technology executive, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing.
Lou D’Ambrosio, who became Sears’ CEO in February 2011, received a signing bonus of $150,000 plus a base salary of $930,769 and $8 million in stock awards, according to a filing the company made Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
D’Ambrosio got another $852,037 in perks, including $803,856 for charter and commercial airfare and ground transportation to commute from greater Philadelphia, where he lives, to Hoffman Estates, Ill., where Sears is based. And he received $29,985 for temporary housing in Hoffman Estates. Sears paid part of the income taxes due on those benefits.
Of course, it’s the company’s prerogative to pay its CEO this much. But at the same time that it was doling out perks to D’Ambrosio, Sears was planning to lay off thousands of workers. Sears has announced that it will be closing 173 stores this year — up from previous estimates of 120 stores — which means that nearly 14,000 workers could be seeing a pink slip.
Adding insult to injury, Sears was also pocketing millions of dollars in tax incentives from the state of Illinois, even as it fired Illinois workers. In fact, under the terrible deal that the state signed with the retail giant, Sears can lay off another 1,750 Illinois workers without losing its taxpayer largesse. But perhaps bilking a state of its needed tax revenue is what Sears pays D’Ambrosio the big bucks for.