Pay Cuts Earn Axle CEO Mega-Million-Dollar Bonus

June 28, 2008
The timing couldn't be better - or more ironic. In this Sunday's Dilbert comic strip, you'll find the pointy-haired boss advising his miserable minions they'll be getting no bonuses, but top executives will use the savings to fund a new, motivational film, "The Sound of No Money."

While we'll have to see whether a similar film is in the works at American Axle, the Detroit-based mega-supplier, which just ended a bitter, three-month strike, we can now confirm that CEO Dick Dauch and his top management team will certainly not be singing that tune. Quite the contrary. The Axle board has awarded Dauch with a whopping $8.5 million bonus - double what he got last round - bringing his total compensation to $15.7 million for the year.

The board justified the raise by citing Dauch and other managers for their "accomplishments and commitment during a period of significant change in our industry." The biggest change: American Axle workers caved in on the company's demand for massive pay cuts, though they did get short-term bonuses to help them prepare for the new reality of earning half as much as they did before. Before we're accused of bias, we need point out that workers at American Axle - which was once a part of General Motors - were previously taking home salaries and benefits significantly higher than what employees at key competitors were making.

Even so, Bill Alford Jr., the local United Auto Workers Union official who led Axle workers on the pickup line, was quoted condemning the big-dollar payoffs for executives, whom he accused of profiting "in the middle of everyone else's misery."

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