Muilenburg raked in $30m in 2018. He could walk away from Boeing with another $60m.
Muilenburg was a director of the Business Roundtable, an association of 192 CEOs of America’s largest corporations. With great fanfare last August, it announced a “fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” (emphasis in the original) and not just their shareholders.
The Roundtable’s commitment came in response to growing public distrust of big corporations, and proposals from several Democratic candidates to rein them in.
Another Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the commitment, and despite GM’s hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers’ demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.About 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn’t save any jobs. Meanwhile, GM’s stock has performed so well that Barra earned $22m last year.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is another member of the Business Roundtable. Just weeks after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, Whole Foods, an Amazon subsidiary, announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.The annual saving to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos – whose net worth is $110bn – makes in two hours.
GE’s CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. Culp raked in $15m last year.
The Business Roundtable issued a widely advertised Christmas message. It asserted that the success of the American economy “depends on businesses investing in the economic security of their employees and the communities in which they operate”.
Just in time for the holidays, US Steel announced 1,545 layoffs at two plants in Michigan. Last year, five US Steel executives received an average compensation package of $4.8m, a 53% increase over 2017.
Instead of a holiday bonus this year, Walmart offered its employees a 15% store discount. Walmart saved $2.2bn this year from the Trump tax cut. The tax cut itself was a product of the Roundtable’s extensive lobbying, lubricated by its generous campaign donations. Several of its member corporations, including Amazon and General Motors, wound up paying no federal income taxes at all last year.