Human Capital & Careers

Bonuses Not Limited in Massey Vote

A union official who supported the shareholder proposal maintains that the coal company ''was a little disingenuous, at the least.''
Stephen TaubMay 20, 2004

At the recent annual meeting of Massey Energy Co., shareholders officially “opposed” a proposal that would have given them the right to limit bonuses paid to company executives, according to the Associated Press. This was the second straight year that the measure was defeated, the wire service pointed out.

In this case, however, “opposed” means that fully 70 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal — but not the 80 percent supermajority required to change the bylaws of the Richmond, Virginia-based coal company.

The measure was introduced by union-owned Amalgamated Bank of New York. United Mine Workers president Cecil Roberts supported the proposal, according to the AP, because he believes that Massey chairman and chief executive officer Don Blankenship is the highest-paid executive in the coal industry while Massey’s financial performance has been among the worst.

Addressing shareholders, Roberts reportedly accused the company of misinforming them about the Amalgamated Bank proposal. A statement by Massey Energy told its shareholders that the idea “is an illegal action under Delaware law” without adding that the Securities and Exchange Commission had determined the proposal was legal, he added. Insisted Roberts, the announcement “was a little disingenuous, at the least.”