General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra took a 0.4 percent pay cut last year, as the largest U.S. automaker pulled off the rare feat of uniting Washington in opposition to its plan to close four factories in America.
Barra made about US$21.9 million in 2018, with her pay dropping by US$87,598 from a year earlier, according to GM’s proxy filing. Portions of her compensation linked to GM’s performance shrank slightly as the company’s US$11.8 billion in adjusted earnings before interest and taxes dipped after record profits the previous two years.
The pay for Barra, 57, and other GM executives is almost certain to be scrutinized in the wake of the company’s November announcement that it planned to idle four U.S. factories by the end of this year. The automaker also is cutting thousands of salaried jobs as it eliminates unpopular sedan models and prepares to spends billions developing electric cars and self-driving technology.
The cutbacks have drawn sharp criticism from the likes of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s leading many polls as a potential Democratic candidate for the White House, despite not having officially announced he’s running.
Trump attacked Barra by name within hours of the announcement. He’s kept up the criticism of her and the company this year on Twitter and at rallies in Ohio and Michigan, the location of three of the factories and states that were crucial to his victory in 2016.
Biden, whose father, grandfather and uncle all worked at a GM plant in Delaware that shut down in 2009, criticised the company in a speech to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers earlier this month. He said he “couldn’t remain silent” because he was both blamed and credited for bailing out the carmaker as Barack Obama’s vice president.
“There used to be a basic bargain in America — you guys know it better than anybody — it said that if you’re a part of building the success of an enterprise, you got to share in the benefits,” Biden said on April 5. “Not now. If an enterprise is hit hard, it used to be everybody took a hit: the CEO, the managers, the hourly workers.”
GM said in February it would make profit-sharing payments of as much as US$10,750 to more than 46,000 U.S. hourly workers. Since 2010, certain eligible employees have collected more than US$80,500 in profit-sharing checks as a condition of contracts with the United Auto Workers union, which will bargain for a new agreement with the company later this year.
Barra earned 281 times more in compensation last year than the company’s median employee.
Separately in its annual proxy filing, GM said that lead director Tim Solso will remain on the board for one more year. He and directors Mike Mullen and Jim Mulva, who are leaving, are all 72, the board’s retirement age.
With Mulva and Mullen departing, GM will have an 11-member board that is majority women women for the first time. Barra is among the company’s six female directors. — Bloomberg.