Union urges votes against CEO pay at Pfizer, J&J

A public employees union has pharma CEO pay in its sights. After lobbying for shareholders' rights to have a "say on pay" at public companies, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is calling on investors to vote against the pay packages awarded to Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon (photo), as well as Pfizer CEO Ian Read (photo) and ex-CEO Jeff Kindler (photo), Pharmalot reports.

According to the association, whose 1.6 million members are part of pension funds together worth $1 trillion, J&J's Weldon has collected $194 million in pay over the past nine years, while J&J's stock declined six percent. Rather than holding Weldon accountable for the "predicaments" he helped to create at J&J, the groups says, the company's board praises him for "leading the company out of trouble." Weldon gets "the credit for good news...[but] no blame for bad news."

Of course, J&J has faced plenty of predicaments lately. A steady drumbeat of recalls that prompted a plant shutdown, an FDA consent decree, government market probes, bribery investigations and patient lawsuits are all plaguing the pharma giant. But J&J's board praised Weldon's leadership through difficult times--and granted him a raise for 2011.

AFSCME has complaints about Pfizer's CEO pay as well. Kindler collected $72 million in compensation while he led Pfizer. But at the same time, the stock value fell by more than one-third, and Pfizer lost some $68 billion in market value, the group says. "Pfizer's CEO pay is indefensible," President Gerald McEntee said in a statement. "CEOs should not get massive rewards after shareholder value is destroyed on their watch. This lavish reward for failure is simply madness."

- get the release from AFSCME
- see AFSCME's background on Weldon (.pdf)
- get more from Pharmalot

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