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In Age of Cuts, Some CEO Pensions Total Millions

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In Age of Cuts, Some CEO Pensions Total Millions

In Age of Cuts, Some CEO Pensions Total Millions

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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On Fridays, our business report focuses on your money. And today we'll explain why the amount of money in your pension may depend on your job at the company. As corporations scale back pensions for their workers, many CEO's are doing just fine. The AFL-CIO labor's main umbrella group says some corporate bosses will earn millions of dollars annually in retirement.

This week, the group posted a list on the web. It shows the CEO's with the 25 richest pensions, and we have a report from NPR's Frank Langfitt.


Workers are worried about retirement these days. And with good reason.

Bankrupt companies, like United Airlines, have dumped their pensions on the government. Even profitable companies, like Verizon and Motorola, have announced plans to freeze pensions for employees. One bright spot, America's CEO's.

The Corporate Library, a big-business watchdog firm, has looked at what chief executives will make in retirement. According to the organization, the five best-compensated CEO's will bring in an average of $5.5 million dollars a year.

Richard Trumka is the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.

Mr. RICHARD TRUMKA (Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO): When it comes to a job and retirement security there's a double standard, and workers are not the ones coming out on top. Corporate CEO's have been able to rig the rules of the game in their favor, while leaving working families on the sidelines.

LANGFITT: Trumka singled out number five on the CEO pension list: IBM's Samuel Palmisano. Palmisano is estimated to make four million dollars a year after he retires. But his employees won't do as well.

Earlier this well, IBM announced it would freeze pension benefits for more than 100,000 workers beginning in 2008. That means IBM employees won't build up any more monthly retirement payments, even as they keep working and earn more salary. Instead, they, and new hires, will be eligible for a 401K plan. Trumka compared that deal to Palmisano's.

Mr. TRUMKA: He'll take home about $75,000 dollars a week in retirement, while future IBM workers will have no defined benefit pensions.

LANGFITT: IBM did not return calls for comment.

Mr. STEVEN MILLOY (President, Free Enterprise Action Fund): Look, no one likes CEO's. Everyone thinks they're overpaid.

LANGFITT: That's Steve Milloy. He's a portfolio manager for the Free Enterprise Action Fund, which opposes activist pressure on chief executives.

Milloy thinks the AFL-CIO is trying to tap into populist anger. He acknowledges that some CEO retirement packages are awfully big, but he says they're tiny compared to the huge operating costs of corporations.

Mr. MILLOY: The few million a year that will go to CEO's, yeah, it's a lot, it's probably excessive, but that money could all be given back to workers and its not going to make a hill of beans difference to them. So I think that the AFL-CIO really ought to spend its time focusing on improving situations for workers rather than just trying to blacken CEO's for political purposes.

LANGFITT: The Securities and Exchange Commission is writing new rules to make companies disclose more about CEO compensation. It's expected to vote on the proposal later this year.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Washington.

INSKEEP: If you want to see the list of CEO's with the 25 best retirement packages, you can reach it through our website at

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