A Great Week for Workers: Nardelli and Lord Browne

In the midst of all the bad news for workers and the non-rich that’s been the norm since the Republicans took over, you will sometimes find, buried behind the stories of worker deaths and collusion between the Bush Administration and the corporatocracy, a rare item that explains how we finally won one. This has been one of those weeks, an unprecedented week in which we won not one but three times. Four if you count the passage of the minimum wage bill.

The first was the furor that erupted after Home Depot’s CEO, Robert Nardelli, was forced to step down after masterminding a 6% drop in the company’s stock, taking with him a severance package worth over $200Mil. Unlike other such instances of CEO’s running away with $$$Millions of $$$ after trashing the companies they headed without a peep from anyone, this one wasn’t ignored. Instead, both press and public reacted angrily, heaping scorn, derision, and vituperation all over him in a sort of verbal tar-and-feathering. The reaction was a clear sign that after a quarter-century of rip-offs, thievery, corruption, and greed, we’ve had enough. Some of us have waited a long time for that day.

The second was even sweeter: some of HD’s investors decided not to just sit by while Nardelli picked their pockets and pranced home in broad daylight thumbing his nose at them. They’re suing him to recover at least some of that swag. They may not win – after all, the package was written into Nardelli’s contract, and the contract was approved by HD’s BOD – but it’s significant that they’ve taken the step. Corporate executives have been stealing from their company’s investors for years and getting away with it. They are now on notice that that situation isn’t going to continue. Mass Rep Barney Frank, new Chair of House Financial Services Committee, wants to hold hearings on a bill that will force corporate boards to go to their shareholders for approval of executive pay packages.

But the third is perhaps the most meaningful of all. British Petroleum’s CEO, Lord John Browne, has just been fired. Continue reading