The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, July 20, 2001

USEC bonuses list stirs union in contract talks
Paducah workers are being asked by the company to make concessions in their new contract.

By Bill Bartleman

Union workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant say they are insulted by a request from the U.S. Enrichment Corp. to make concessions in their new contract when top executives are receiving salary bonuses reported to be more than $2.6 million.

"It is almost unbelievable when they are explaining to us in negotiations why we have to face concessions, when at the same time they are paying such high bonuses," said David Fuller, president of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy (PACE) Workers Union Local 5-550. "We have to wonder how the bonuses are being financed, and if they are being financed by the concessions they want from hourly workers."

Copies of a confidential list of proposed salary bonuses for 33 top executives have been circulating at the Paducah plant all week as the union and company officials meet at the Executive Inn to negotiate a new contract. Union leaders at the closed enrichment plant in Portsmouth, Ohio, also have received copies. The list also has been circulated among the Paducah plant's 700 salaried workers.

USEC officials were trying to determine how the list got from headquarters in Maryland to Paducah and Portsmouth. "The sheet was not distributed by the company," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle. "It contains proprietary information."

Normally, only the bonuses of the top four or five executives are made pubic through required Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Stuckle said the list, dated July 6, is not accurate. "It does not reflect current compensation and bonuses," she said. Asked how close to accurate it was, she said, "It depends on how you define close."

The list, which includes five managers at the Paducah plant, proposes bonuses ranging from $44,192 to $207,515. It does not include the proposed bonus for William "Nick" Timbers, USEC chief executive officer, who received a bonus last year of $617,625, according to SEC filings.

The bonuses do not include salary, benefits or other annual compensation.

Most workers at the plant received bonuses this week equal to 3.125 percent of their annual salary, reportedly based on meeting certain safety standards during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Stuckle defended the practice of giving large bonuses to managers, and of the amounts paid to top USEC officials. "The USEC bonuses for managers are very competitive with the utility industry," she said. "If you don't stay competitive, you won't keep excellent managers."

Fuller said he doesn't know how the bonus list got to Paducah, or who initially was responsible for circulating it among employees.

Fuller said he was contacted at the Executive Inn during negotiations by several employees who told him about it. "Several dropped copies off to us down here (at the hotel)," he said.

The current contract between PACE and USEC expires at the end of the month. Fuller said it is too early to predict whether a new contract will be signed by the deadline.