News » The QueQue

Wage freeze preceded by promotion of VP's?

By Greg Harman
[email protected]

Upper management at CPS Energy were getting promotions in May of this year, according to CPS staff.

In June, however, employees were being notified there would be no more raises or promotions as the utility navigated an economic slow-down.

Now, a day before CPS Energy's CEO Milton Lee's incentives package comes up for discussion at a CPS Board of Trustees meeting, workers are being notified that if the economic “crisis” isn't alleviated by the wage freeze and other measures, mandatory furloughs and salary decreases could be employed.

As highlighted in a Current story last week, Lee is likely the highest-paid executive of any city-owned utility in the country. In fact “CEO Jr.” Steve Bartley, hired as Lee's 2nd two years ago as part of a transition plan for Lee's alleged retirement, may be the second highest paid.

Lee earned $613,000 last year, $245,000 of which was defined as “incentive” pay. Bartley took in $415,000.

The next highest leader at a city-owned utility was Jerry Forte, CEO at Colorado Springs Utilities, who earned a total of $301,000.

The apparent double standard at play between grunt and management pay is roiling the blood of some workers at the city-owned utility.

“If we truly can't afford to pay the employees how can we afford to have two CEO's at more than a million dollars?” one employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, asked this week.

Bartley issued a memo to all employees this week, stating:

“Our leadership team is asking the directors, managers, and supervisors to micro-manage their budget to reduce expenses further and to stretch every penny of spending that's mission critical. They will need your cooperation and support. If we cannot reduce expenses through renewed efforts over the next couple of months the next options will be consideredâ?¦”

Next options include: putting off wage-scale payments to union members, reducing or eliminating annual bonuses, implementing unpaid furloughs, and outright cutting of employee salaries.

While the rhetoric jibes with promises Lee has made to the union last year, a promise to do everything to avoid lay-offs this year, Bartley told the Express-News “all options are on the table.”

How the daily managed to avoid the subject of recent management raises and Milton's incentives discussion being held tomorrow is an apparent case of willful blindness.

Woe, I say, woe to the one-outlet news consumer. We'll just have to keep on pushing the excluded tid-bits.

Back on Milton, our personal Deep Throat of the day confirmed what so many others have been saying to us lately: The Austin resident is a dud.

“No one likes Milton Lee. We can't figure out what he does â?¦ He shows up at press events, but who cares? That's not worth what he makes.

“We're just so ticked off. This is not right. It's not fair. If he gets a bonus Wednesday, we're all going to have to take a furlough day to pay him."

We've been trying for the last few hours to get confirmation on the stated Veep promotions from CPS today. Pretty useless. Vetting all questions through press office in advanceâ?¦ Nice transparency, guys.

Anyway, I for one am not expecting top management to take voluntary wage reductions to set an example here. But they should.

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