Smurfit Stone Hands Out End of 2010 Exec Bonuses + Finance Reform

by jhwygirl

Keila Szpaller’s Missoula Red Tape has the story and the link to the SEC filing.

The quick and dirty: $2.8 million in bonuses to 5 executives, including one Missoula local. The total in 2009? $8.1 million in executive bonuses.

Maybe this is a question for the finance-reform knowledgeable: How does a business hand out $8.1 million in executive bonuses while it is under federal protection, via bankruptcy courts, from complete loss of its assets?

How is that even fair to the creditors?

What ever happened to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people?

How can a corporation hand out those kind of bonuses, while sending at least two communities and states – Missoula, Montana and Ontonagon, Michigan – into a tailspin?

Smurfit owes Missoula County backtaxes, for crying out loud and they’re paying out fat bonuses? I wonder if they owe state taxes?

There’s something wrong with laws (not the courts) that allow that. Courts enforce the laws. This kind of shit shouldn’t be OK.


  1. Pilot

    If anything could disabuse the notion that our courts don’t make laws, the right wing activist justices on the Supreme Court should have recently accomplished that.

    Corporations are not people. If you prick them, they do not bleed. If you tickle them, they do not laugh. If you poison them, they do not die.

    We need a constitutional amendment to straighten this out, given that the disgraceful majority will likely be around for some time to come.

  2. problembear

    the new bankruptcy laws (endorsed by our own max baucus) were just the beginning. now that corporate personhood has been endorsed by the supreme court, corporate corruption is officially a full-blown infestation.

    there is no accountability anymore.

    it is the 2nd coming of the rockefellers, the getty’s, the morgan’s and the vanderbilts…..

    the laws which once restrained the tycoons and the super wealthy have been weakened by 35 years of naive trust in the “free” market.

    • The second coming of the Company. Like the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Marcus Daly. U.S. Senator William A. Clark.

      Only it’s much larger this time. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into the Berkley Pit.

      Looks like we’re going to have to find another Mr. Smith to go to Washington.

      (Many say that Clark was the senator who the fictitious Mr. Smith riled up with his activities to stop a dam.)

      • Matt Gibson


        If Mr. Smith is actually based on a real life Montana character, it would be Sen. Burton K. Wheeler, the Montana progressive who vigorously battled with Anaconda in the early part of the 20th century. Clark was legendarily corrupt and widely believed to have bribed his way into the Senate.

      • Matt Gibson

        I didn’t say that quite right. If the Mr. Smith story has a Montana angle, it would more likely be the inspiration of Wheeler. Clark’s political life occurred so long ago, and his particular brand of corruption was so extreme, a character with his traits would be an anachronism in the Smith plot.

        • I think we are in agreement, Matt – I said that Mr. Smith “riled up” his nemisis – William Clark.

          To go further, I would agree that Mr. Smith was likely modeled after Wheeler….I’m sure you remember that Mr. Smith was fighting a dam, which was really the corporate product of Wheeler’s corruption. Mr. Smith didn’t know that, but found out once he was invited to dinner over to his senior senator’s home.

          Quite the parallel, when you consider that in real life, when Wheeler was elected (through an election process corrupted by Wheeler’s companion-in-crime Copper Kings) the U.S. Senate refused to seat him, which led to Clark being elected to take that seat.

          So the movie rolls around two U.S. senators from the same state – one modeled after Clark, one modeled after Wheeler.

  3. problembear

    acually, j-girl, i mistrust men too much anymore. would vote for the right woman though….

  4. Matthew Koehler

    Unless I’ve missed it, which is entirely possible, this information about the Smurfit-Stone executives getting another $2.8 million in bonuses (for a 2009 total of $8.1 million) was only on the Missoula Red Tape blog, and not in the Missoulian? Right?

    If so, I wonder why the Missoulian thought it wasn’t newsworthy enough for their paper? Didn’t the Missoulian also provide no coverage over the past year about the fact that Smurfit-Stone Corp collected over $543 million (that’s $543,000,000.00) from US taxpayers exploiting an alternative energy tax credit. I suppose that wasn’t newsworthy either.

    With all this money floating around the upper levels of Smurfit Stone one hopes they’ll manage to find the $1 million they owe Missoula county and our schools in back taxes.

    • problembear

      seeking justice is probably out matt unless we were to get a judge the caliber of W.O. Douglas to adjudicate this….

      but there is always the old medieval method of supplicating, begging and pleading for alms from our masters.

  5. Chuck

    The Missoulian may be afraid to offend the progressive majority on the City Council, including Roy Houseman who spent 3 weeks in Washington lobbying for the Smurfit Stone Corporation’s abuse of the alternative fuels tax rebate program. The half a billion dollars Stone scammed out of us with Roy’s support makes the executive bonuses look like chump change.

  6. Thomas Paine

    What you don’t seem to understand is that these corporate executives possess very special, very unique skills that justify these rewards for their outstanding performances. After all, it’s not everyone who can lap up the corporate welfare and still run their company into bankruptcy.

    This is how American Capitalism works under Republicans. If successful, cut wages to the bone and increase boardroom perks. If a failure, fire everyone and increase boardroom perks. And if this doesn’t seem to make sense to you, it’s because you’re just an average schmoe who isn’t schooled in all the mysterious ways of how businesses need to be run.

    These executive are *special* people who need all the pampering and Robb Report toys their bonuses provide. Why, without them, they might just pick up and leave and go destroy some other company, and then where would we be?

  7. P.O. Employee

    It is amazing to me that they can justify paying themselves and the managers of this company any type of bonus. The employees have not had a raise in almost 2 years and they are closing facilities to “cut costs”. How about not taking a bonus and spreading the wealth to the employees that have stayed loyal to the company during the bankruptcy. They will respond better to a gesture of good will from the brass and may not curse your names when you leave in your limos. I was amused at the way the cut costs last year. They canceled the lease on the corporate jet and canceled the employee recognition program. That seems like a great way to keep up the morale boys!

    • problembear

      that is the problem with the insidious nature of corporate culture in america today. they don’t need to justify anything. bad behavior is always rewarded. laws created by their friends make sure of that.

      stealing millions of dollars from a corporation (or bank) is perfectly ok after you have run it into the ground and refused to pay your creditors. it is called executive privelege.

    • I’m told at least one of those listed with those mega-bonus’ worked right here in Missoula.

      Which really goes a way to dispel all those “ha – take that high-paid union workers” sneers I heard when the place closed.

      Apparently the average (as opposed to median) wage was $75,000 a year.

  8. FC

    They give these guys a bonus and pay some high priced lawyer to take everything Smurfit employees have. They keep telling us that the West Point mill is the top dog. They are taking everything we have worked for all our lives. pension, benefits, wages over $9000 p year for shift workers and everything in between. The union in West Point could very possibly be going on strike and in reality the management should be fired for allowing this to happen

    • There are trying to bust your union, FC. Stimson started their slow decline about a year and half out before the expiration of their contract (which was October). They closed the mill last April. People inside knew it was coming.

      Hell, Stimson sold the rights to its most profitable product. That was another sign.

      I hope your union is strong and makes the very best deal it can. Negotiate what severance would be while you have the chance and leverage – they left these guys here high and dry.

      Don’t trust ’em. We have other posts here – use the search there on the right, and put “stimson” in…there’s a bunch.

      and do keep us posted. We’re not afraid to expose them for the scum they are. If you want, my email is in the “about jhwygirl” post, and you can contact me that way, too.

      Best of luck. I stand strong with any union brother or sister.

  1. 1 417 Reasons to Hate on the Lady Ann Magee II « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] how about  today’s Missoulian story about Smurfit handing out over $50 million in bonuses to execs while the company is still stiffing Missoula County for $1.8 million in back taxes? I […]

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