CEOs who lay off the most workers get biggest pay | National Union of Public and General Employees

CEOs who lay off the most workers get biggest pay

Top 50 U.S. CEOs got $598 million since laying off 37,759 employees after the 2008 economic meltdown.

Download - CEO Pay and the Great RecessionOttawa (8 Sept. 2010) - A new report says the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the 50 corporations that have laid off the most workers since the global economic meltdown in 2008 raked in 42% more pay the following year than their peers at other large American companies.

The report, from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, found that the 50 "layoff leaders" averaged $12 million in 2009 compared with an average compensation of $8.5 million for chief executives of companies in Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Each of the 50 companies examined in the report laid off at least 3,000 workers between November 2008 and April 2010.

“Our findings illustrate the great unfairness of the Great Recession,” says Sarah Anderson, lead author of the study, CEO Pay and the Great Recession.

The report is the latest in a series of annual Executive Excess reports published by IPS. “CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own pay cheques,” Anderson says.

Some examples:

  • Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Mark Hurd, who resigned last month after slashing 6,400 jobs in 2009, received compensation totalling $24.2 million and more than $40 million including severance. This happened even though he resigned under a cloud involving a sexual harassment complaint and falsified reports.
  • Fred Hassan of the drug pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough received a $33 million “golden parachute” when his firm merged with Merck in late 2009, even as the company was laying off 16,000 workers. The report calculates Hassan’s total compensation for 2009 at almost $50 million, an amount that could have been used to cover the average cost of the laid off workers’ jobless benefits for over 10 weeks.

Overall, the Institute for Policy Studies calculates that the $598 million total compensation awarded to the top 50 CEO layoff leaders was enough to provide average unemployment benefits to 37,759 workers for an entire year, or nearly one month of benefits for each of the 531,363 workers their companies laid off.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
Download report: CEO Pay and the Great Recession

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