September 4th, 2012

Charlotte-based Duke Energy CEO, ALEC ally, Pushed to Bring Convention to HQ

William Johnson was CEO of Progress Energy headquartered in Raleigh, NC for five years earning $5.1 million per year and owning $9 million in company stock. Progress was bought by Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, with the merger completed on July 2, 2012. Duke CEO Jim Rogers (earning $5.9 million per pre-merger year) promised that Johnson would be CEO of the combined companies. On July 3 the new Board reneged on Rogers’ pledge and made him CEO. Former Duke board members outnumbered Former Progress members. Duke’s man won. Johnson lasted less than a day.

Don’t feel sorry for Johnson. He got severance, benefits, deferred compensation, and something called equity “awards,” totaling $44 million! For one day “on the job.” How more unfair can the devaluation of workers get? North Carolina is a non-unionized state with under 3% of workers protected by a collective bargaining agreement. But this deal was beyond reason. The only requirement for Johnson — that he not disparage the new merged corporation.

Bullied targets are thrown out without severance except in rare cases. When they do get severance, they are gagged for life, sometimes banned from working in their industry.

As it turns out, Jim Rogers was co-chair of the Charlotte booster group to entice the DNC to bring their convention to their “right to work” state. Evidently, angering unions is something modern Democrats are willing to do. CEO Rogers had pledged $37 million in corporate funding to land the convention before the DNC said it would not accept corporate donations. So, Rogers lent corporate-owned building space, a $10 million loan guarantee, and his connections to raise funds from individual donors.

But Rogers and Duke Energy are not just helping Dems. Duke is an active, non-apologetic member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC feeds conservative state and federal lawmakers prepared bills to introduce that help suppress votes through requiring voter IDs and union-busting bills.

During convention week, Rogers is slated to appear at several functions with prominent Democratic leaders and celebrities. Traditional supporters of the Democratic Party, unions, are on the outside looking in. They’ve launched a self-deprecating “Hug A Union Thug” gimmick to draw attention to the plight of workers.

If Duke Energy had distributed the Johnson $44 million severance to the 29,000+ employees, every worker would have earned an additional $1,500. Which payoff do you support?


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 at 4:58 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, The New America, Unions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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