Coal Executives Take Millions before Bankruptcies

Coal Executives Take Millions before Bankruptcies
Photo by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash

[This piece was published on the original Home Yesterday in November, 2017]

Amid the news of Alpha Coal’s bankruptcy, attention is rightly given to the communities and miners affected. The bankruptcy will be used to take away promised benefits from miners who earned them. But there are some people who won’t be harmed at all by what happened, and it’s important to know who they are.

Kevin S. Crutchfield, “Chairman and Chief Executive Officer” of Alpha, just picked up a $2,000,000.00 bonus this spring, as he led the company into bankruptcy. While Alpha’s stock has plunged over the last several years, he picked up over $6,000,000.00 in cash payouts in 2011 and 2012.

“President” Paul Vining walked away with almost $8,000,000.00 for just two years of work as these executives marched Alpha off a cliff. Vining then got away while the getting was good. As “Former President,” he still gets $4,500,000.00!

Peabody Energy, another company on the verge of bankruptcy, thought its corporate leadership so effective it awarded top suit Gregory Boyce well over $10,000,000.00 in 2014. The “President and Chief Operating Officer” got about $5,500,000.00.

Arch Coal was doing so well it rewarded the boss with a $7,300,000.00 payday in

2014. He got paid this stupendous sum while the company lost almost half a billion dollars — “Arch reported a loss of $558.4 million in 2014. In 2014, Arch common stock fell almost 62% and was recently trading at about $1.24 per share” — Imagine what he’d have got if it made money!

Of course, that’s just chump change compared to the tens of millions executives paid themselves just a few years ago. Coal executives, including, yes, Don Blankenship, have extracted hundreds of millions to pad their wallets even as miners have lost their jobs and communities have been devastated.

Don’t forget Consol, which hands over at least $8,300,000.00 annually to Rich DiIuliis. Remember that number as these guys go to the public talking about the “tough times” for coal. Tough for some, pretty clean sailing for others. Follow those links and you’ll find out that Consol calls the eight million plus a “savings” because they paid the last guy over $15,000,000.00 per year. What for? So the company can go down, down, down . . .

Lesser-known Cloud Peak Coal pays a raft of executives million dollar salaries, but the top two rake in over $4,000,000.00 per year and for the big man at the head of the table, there is somehow $10,000,000.00 available to “invest” in his services. All of this while miners for CPC get laid off and left out of the financial bonanza reaped by the corporate big-wigs.

All of this occurred despite the key factors in coal’s decline being business factors and things people could see coming miles and miles away. If it doesn’t make sense for these savvy businessmen to have borrowed so much and spent so much in what everyone knew was a tough environment for coal, you’re not thinking about it right. The point was never to save the companies — it was to jack up their paychecks and make sure they cleared a bundle before the inevitable crash.

Same story, different day: the risks of capitalism are only for the workers and their families and communities. It’s win-win for the corporate leadership that always gets paid in advance. Oh, and even though the companies are “bankrupt,” they’ve got plenty of money left over to influence politics.