Think Progress

Executives Running Collapsing Coal Companies Award Themselves Millions While Laying Off Workers

Executives of the top coal-producing companies in the country got compensation increases while their companies spiraled into bankruptcy, laid off workers, or tried to slash employee benefits, a new report finds.

Most top executives for Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources got compensation increases worth in total millions of dollars as the companies went into massive debt often due to fruitless expansions, the report released Tuesday by Public Citizen, an advocacy organization, found. In conjunction with the report, Public Citizen also sent letters to Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources chief executive officers urging them to invest their multi-million dollar bonuses in a trust fund for laid off workers.

The report comes as the coal industry has been facing a steep drop in prices as demand plummets. Moreover, regulations on the industry have become more stringent over the years, raising costs. The report also questions companies’ management and lists compensation increases from 2012 through 2014 — the years ahead of bankruptcy filings — all while pointing to layoffs and a number of attacks on workers’ benefits through the company’s financial struggles.

As profits shrank, executives paid themselves more, laid off staff, and cut worker benefits.

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