Add Sears to the naughty list this Christmas as the company that once was the Amazon of its day is slashing severance pay for laid-off employees while setting aside $25.3 million for bonuses for top executives after filing for bankruptcy.
“I didn’t think I would be treated like this, considering Kmart was my family and I was loyal to them.”
A couple of weeks ago GM drew the ire of the people — and the president — after the company announced it was laying off up to 15,000 employees and closing up to five plants in North America, all while giving its CEO, Mary Barra, $22 million in pay for 2017 alone. Barra’s salary is 295 times higher than the average GM salaried worker’s $74,000.
Of course, GM doesn’t have a monopoly on corporate greed and now it’s Sears’ turn to show its true colors after a bankruptcy court last week gave the former retail giant the go-ahead to put $25.3 million aside for bonuses for top executives, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In court, Sears argued it needs the money in order to keep the executives around.
The Tribune is reporting that 19 executives get bonuses from a pool of $8.4 million if the company hits sales goals for the next six months, and 315 other senior employees can draw from the remaining pool of $16.9 million.
Of course, that’s fine and dandy for the executives, but laid-off Sears and Kmart employees have reported they stopped receiving their severance checks soon after the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Former employees posted a letter demanding Sears “guarantee severance pay and create a hardship fund” for the thousands of people laid who were laid off.
Sheila Brewer, who had been working at an Illinois Kmart for 17 years, said she received two weeks of severance pay before the money dried up.
“It has been devastating,” Brewer told me over the phone. “In addition to losing my job and having anxiety about who is going to hire me, since I haven’t had a job interview in almost 20 years, I am counting on this money. I’m already behind on my rent, and I am the sole provider for my family,” which includes her husband and her 2-year-old grandson.
“They really are just doing us wrong,” says Brewer. “I didn’t think I would be treated like this, considering Kmart was my family and I was loyal to them.”
Another laid-off former employee, Onie Patrick, tells a similar story.
Patrick, who worked for Kmart for nine years, is not eligible for severance because she was part-time. But after reading that tens millions of dollars could go to executive bonuses, she is fighting for Sears to claim responsibility in sending some sort of payment to all laid-off employees.
“These executives are going to get millions, but what about the people that worked for them?” she says. “I was offered a front lead position somewhere else one year ago, but I stayed because I loved working for Kmart, even though the company had been on a raise freeze for years. They can’t pretend now like they owe us nothing.”
Patrick, a mother of five children ages 1 to 11, says reading about executives potentially receiving millions of dollars in bonuses while she’s struggling to pay for diapers “is a slap in the face.”
Once again, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was in the mix, chastising Sears much like he did with GM.
This is what we mean when we talk about a rigged economy. If Sears has $25 million to give bonuses to executives after closing over 100 stores, why is the company telling thousands of laid off employees they don't have the money to pay their severance? https://t.co/vgL2F2BLVk
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 15, 2018