Government Motors Pays Worker Bonuses Before Paying Off Government Loan
My (adopted) Jewish grandfather would have called this chutzpah:
Less than two years after entering bankruptcy, General Motors will extend millions of dollars in bonuses to most of its 48,000 hourly workers as a reward for the company’s rapid turnaround after it was rescued by the government.
The payments, disclosed Monday in company documents, are similar to bonuses announced last week for white-collar employees. The bonuses to 76,000 American workers will probably total more than $400 million – an amount that suggests executives have increasing confidence in the automaker’s comeback.
But the bonuses drew criticism from an opponent of the auto industry bailout in Washington who said GM should repay its entire $49.5 billion loan before offering bonuses.
“Since the taxpayers helped these companies out of bankruptcy, the taxpayers should be repaid before bonuses go out,” said Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. “It sends a message that those in charge take shareholders, in this case the taxpayers, for a sucker.”
The government has been repaid $23 billion but needs $26.4 billion more to recoup its whole investment. The government still owns 500 million shares of GM common stock, which would have to sell for roughly $53 per share to get all the money back.
What do you think? Should the workers get bonuses, or should GM pay the government–meaning you and me, the taxpayers–back first?