CEOs: Higher and Fire


With the election coming up, the nation’s well-heeled community of CEOs has every reason to get behind Bush-Cheney and their so-called economic recovery plan. CEO pay shot up 44 percent in 2002 at the 50 companies with the most announced layoffs. CEO median pay stood at $5.112 million in 2002, compared to $3.555 million the year before.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington demonstrates that the more you fire the better the pay. Carly Fiorina, at Hewlett-Packard, sacked 25,700 workers in 2001. Her pay jumped to $4.114 million from $1.242 million, a 231 percent increase. But the top layoff leader in terms of pay increase was AOL Time Warner’s former boss, Gerald M. Levin. He knocked off only 4,380 employees in 2001, but he got a 1,612 percent pay hike, from $1.238 million in 2001 to $21.195 million in 2002.

The highest-paid layoff leader was Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski, who took home $71.038 million in 2002, a $34.695 million raise, even though he was forced out in disgrace mid-year. In 2001, Tyco laid off 11,300 workers. The top 50 layoff leaders cut a total of 465,252 jobs in 2001.

“Between 1990 and 2002,” the report says, “average CEO pay rose 279 percent, far more than the 46 percent increase in worker pay, which was just 8 percent above inflation.”

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John