Mon Dec 8, 2008 1:11am EST
(Reuters) - Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered company's compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.
The compensation committee has not reached a decision, but is leaning toward denying Thain and other senior executives bonuses for this year, the people told the paper.
Merrill could not be immediately reached for comment.
Shareholders on Friday approved Bank of America Corp's takeover of Merrill, a deal fraught with risk but one that would create a banking giant with a leading position in almost every major area of the financial system.
Merrill was arguably saved from extinction when it agreed to merge on September 15, an hour before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy. The fear was that Merrill could be next if shareholders and trading partners fled, as many did at Lehman and the former Bear Stearns Cos.
Thain has said he deserves a bonus because he helped avert what could have been a much larger crisis at the firm, people familiar with his thinking told the WSJ.
Members of Merrill's compensation committee agree with Thain that the takeover is in shareholders' best interest, but believe it would be foolish to ignore strong public sentiment against large compensation packages, the paper said, citing people familiar with their thinking.
Committee members are also weighing the fact that other Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which did better than Merrill this year, are not giving out bonuses to top executives, the paper said.
Thain, who became Merrill's chief executive after losses in mortgage-related investments led to the October 2007 ouster of Stanley O'Neal, has also run NYSE Euronext, after a long career at Goldman.
After the Bank of America-Merrill deal is completed, he will run the merged company's global banking, securities and wealth management businesses. Thain will not be joining Bank of
(Reporting by Pratish Narayanan in
© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
t r u t h o u t | 12.08
Obama Defends Republic Windows and Doors Workers
Sunday 07 December 2008
by: Abdon Pallasch, The
President-elect Barack Obama put himself on the side of the workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory Sunday:
"When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right," Obama said Sunday at a news conference announcing his new Veterans Affairs director. "What's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy.
"When you have a financial system that is shaky, credit contracts. Businesses large and small start cutting back on their plants and equipment and their workforces. That's why it's so important for us to maintain a strong financial system. But it's also important for us to make sure that the plans and programs that we design aren't just targeted at maintaining the solvency of banks, but they are designed to get money out the doors and to help people on
"Number two, I think it is important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll so we are not seeing these kinds of circumstances again,'' he said. "Have we done everything that we can to make sure credit is flowing to businesses and to families, and to students who are trying to get loans? And to homeowners who have been making payments on their homes but are still finding their property values so depressed that it becomes very difficult for them to make the mortgage payments?
"That's where the rubber hits the road and that's going to be the central focus of my administration."
In Factory Sit-In, an Anger Spread Wide
Sunday 07 December 2008
by: Monica Davey, The New York Times
Chicago - The scene inside a long, low-slung factory on this city's North Side this weekend offered a glimpse at how the nation's loss of more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs in a year of recession is boiling over.
Workers laid off Friday from Republic Windows and Doors, who for years assembled vinyl windows and sliding doors here, said they would not leave, even after company officials announced that the factory was closing.
Some of the plant's 250 workers stayed all night, all weekend, in what they were calling an occupation of the factory. Their sharpest criticisms were aimed at their former bosses, who they said gave them only three days' notice of the closing, and the company's creditors. But their anger stretched broadly to the government's costly corporate bailout plans, which, they argued, had forgotten about regular workers.
"They want the poor person to stay down," said Silvia Mazon, 47, a mother of two who worked as an assembler here for 13 years and said she had never before been the sort to march in protests or make a fuss. "We're here, and we're not going anywhere until we get what's fair and what's ours. They thought they would get rid of us easily, but if we have to be here for Christmas, it doesn't matter."
The workers, members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of
At a news conference Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama said the company should follow through on its commitments to its workers.
"The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned," Mr. Obama said, "I think they're absolutely right and understand that what's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy."
Company officials, who were no longer at the factory, did not return telephone or e-mail messages. A meeting between the owners and workers is scheduled for Monday. The company, which was founded in 1965 and once employed more than 700 people, had struggled in recent months as home construction dipped, workers said.
Still, as they milled around the factory's entrance this weekend, some workers said they doubted that the company was really in financial straits, and they suggested that it would reopen elsewhere with cheaper costs and lower pay. Others said managers had kept their struggles secret, at one point before Thanksgiving removing heavy equipment in the middle of the night but claiming, when asked about it, that all was well.
Workers also pointedly blamed Bank of America, a lender to Republic Windows, saying the bank had prevented the company from paying them what they were owed, particularly for vacation time accrued.
"Here the banks like Bank of
In a statement issued Saturday, Bank of
Inside the factory, the "occupation" was relatively quiet. The
About 30 workers sat in folding chairs on the factory floor. (Reporters and supporters were not allowed to enter, but the workers could be observed through an open door.) They came in shifts around the clock. They tidied things. They shoveled snow. They met with visiting leaders, including Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky, both Democrats from
Throughout the weekend, people came by with donations of food, water and other supplies.
The workers said they were determined to keep their action - reminiscent, union leaders said, of autoworkers' efforts in
"The fact is that workers really feel like they have nothing to lose at this point," Ms. Fried said. "It shows something about our economic times, and it says something about how people feel about the bailout."
Until last Tuesday, many workers here said, they had no sense that there was any problem. Shortly before 1 p.m. that day, workers were told in a meeting that the plant would close Friday, they said. Some people wept, others expressed fury.
Many employees said they had worked in the factory for decades. Lalo Muñoz, who was among those sleeping over in the building, said he arrived 34 years ago. The workers - about 80 percent of them Hispanic, with the rest black or of other ethnic and national backgrounds - made $14 an hour on average and received health care and retirement benefits, Ms. Fried said.
"This never happens - to take a company from the inside," Ms. Mazon said. "But I'm fighting for my family, and we're not going anywhere."
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs