By on March 30, 2009

ABC News reports that outgoing GM CEO Rick Wagoner will walk away with a $20.2 million retirement package, not including the usual perks bestowed upon The General’s generals (e.g., free air travel, secretarial services, cars for life, etc.). Also standard: Wagoner’s pension is insured. In other words, if/when GM eventually files for Chapter 11 protections, even if the company ends up in liquidation, Wagoner’s pension is safe. And as the money is not a “bonus,” it can’t be stopped by the federales. In an email to ABC, GM spokeswoman Julie M. Gibson pointed out that it’s actually only $5M or so paid out over five years. (It’s my money and I want it now!) In a subsequent “clarification,” Gibson said the terms of Wagoner’s final compensation were not yet hammered out. “Specifics on any compensation entitled to, or actually paid to Mr. Wagoner are still being reviewed.” Could that mean he actually INCREASED his pay-out to piss off? Anyway, if Rick decides to take GM to court, guess who pays for the lawyer? Not that he can’t afford one: Wagoner’s already banked over $60,000,000 in salary. As for the value of Wagoner’s stock options, well, I guess there is some justice in the world.

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47 Comments on “GM CEO Rick Wagoner Scores $20.2M Retirement Package...”

  • avatar

    “Cars for life” may be short-lived–not his life, GM’s.

    Poor guy, I would happily resign too if I had all these goodies waiting for me.


  • avatar

    All they had to do was plant a joint in his desk and they could have saved 20 mil.

  • avatar

    commence puking…

    So where does he live? And when can we gather up our pitchforks and stand outside his house? Oh wait, I should probably specify which house, since he’s prolly got four or five. What a tool.

  • avatar

    As somebody who worked for Home Depot during Nardelli’s tenure and $211 million golden parachute, I think GM got out pretty cheap. At that price, they should have done it a while ago!

    Watch Congress spend $100 million trying to tax it 98%…

  • avatar

    Man, how can I find a job like this? I would have been willing to run GM into the dirt for a quarter of Slick Ricks pay and happy with a $1M retirement.

  • avatar

    I bet he has a job lined up at AIG already! these snakes always find someone to buy there story’s,as in a book deal “Who not to sleep with”

  • avatar

    I think he probably lives in Grosse Pointe, MI. Apparently 97.18% of the population is white in that area. Median income is about $81000. I guess that means RiR is above the median by an insane margin if he does live there. Maybe we could arrange a Montreal ski trip for him.

  • avatar

    As for the value of Wagoner’s stock options, well, I guess there is some justice in the world.

    Ohh yeah…

  • avatar

    (not for the work, silly rabbit! I’m meant to get rid of his sorry ass!)

  • avatar

    Don’t get distracted from the real issues here (gov’t interventionism, GM cultural change needed, viability plan, industry cratering, etc) by the ease of getting bent out of shape about Wagoner’s golden parachute…

  • avatar

    “free air travel”?
    On the non-existent GM corporate jets?
    Or GM pays for tickets on commercial airlines? first class?

    Jack Welch at GE got all these perks. Even fresh flowers for his Manhattan apartment.
    Can’t these folks pay for their own perks out of their pensions?

  • avatar

    I doubt he hesitated when the Obama Admin said he had to step down – instead he probably yelled out a big “YES!” like he just won the office March Madness pool.

  • avatar

    That’s lower than I would have figured. I was thinking more like $50-100 mil.

  • avatar

    As I predicted before the amount was publicized, there would be a public outcry about his retirement package. So what; it’s small potatoes – that’s what GM lost in only 6 hours.

    If you don’t like it (and I’m no fan, either), then complain to the Board of Directors or the US Government.

    This class-envy stuff is just a distraction from the fact that the US President just fired the CEO of a private corporation, and is also willing to nationalize its operations to maitain the jobs program.

    Instead, we’ve become a nation of populist reactionism:
    * Don’t like GM’s CEO, so fire him
    * Don’t like AIG’s legal bonus plan, so tax them
    * Don’t like Rick’s legal retirement plan, so attack it
    * Must keep jobs going, so underwrite C & GM
    * AIG’s collapse would be doomsday, so bail it out
    * Tax the “rich”; spread the wealth

    GM never should have accepted/requested government aid, because this is the kind of scrutiny that comes with it. They should have just entered C11 last Fall.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    Rick should not be allowed to keep the $20mm. It’s disgraceful all the money he’s pulled out of GM and look at it today…on the precipice of bankruptcy. Have these guys no shame?

  • avatar

    If the pension is part of a contract (which I suspect it is) then it must be honored. The only legal way to break a contract is for one of the parties to sue and convince a judge to rule the contract void. Breaking contracts unilaterally is a very bad road to take and sets a precedent that will ruin orderly business transactions.

  • avatar

    Pfft. Nardelli got nearly a quarter-billion to get the hell out of Home Depot.

  • avatar

    And there lies the evils of corporation capitalism.

    Id have been willing to run GM into the dirt for just $1 million.

    I might have even done a better job.

  • avatar

    And there lies the evils of corporation capitalism.

    Now, I’m as much of a Bolshevik as the next guy, but I can’t agree with this.

    Excessive compensation isn’t a necessary feature of capitalism. It’s a feature of a corporate culture so unwilling to cope with blame it pays people off—often with monstrous sums—to bugger off rather than address their shortcomings either proactively (by telling Rick back in, say, 2002, that things weren’t rosy) or reactively (by shitcanning him in 2005)

    I’ve been witness to this on a smaller scale, and it’s disturbing, short-sighted and spineless, but it’s not a failure of capitalism.

  • avatar

    I don’t know what to say except, “Keep it up.”

  • avatar

    I’m obviously more generous and forgiving that you guys. I think he should be paid 50 cents for every dollar of value he’s created for GM shareholders since he’s been CEO.

    (Or, you know, charged 50 cents for every dollar of value he’s destroyed, whatever the case may happen to be …)

  • avatar

    The problem with focusing on executive compensation is that you are not focusing on the place that will save enough money. Let’s see – $20m for Rick and we have a $10b loan needed. That means we have $9.980b to find. I wonder where it is.

  • avatar

    It’s good to be the King. Good luck spending your money Rick. Who needs stinkin’ stock options, you’ve got enough millions.

  • avatar

    Wow. He knew to get out before the C11, where a Bankruptcy Judge, making the low six figures with no cars or airplanes included, would pass on his “package”.

    Even for those of us doing well, this makes me feel like a loser. I actually have to work for my money, and if I stopped, no one would pay me.

    Clearly, I’m not executive material.

  • avatar


    Communism and capitalism are nothing more than theories and neither of them work when allowed to run wild.

    I lived in China and Japan, america could learn alot from both of them.

  • avatar
    Ole Stang

    Gslippy AMEN BROTHER

    alas the peanut gallery must get their two cents in and with the internet we all have a soap box to stand on. Rick’s rumours buyout of $20 million is CHEAP compared to the golden parachutes over the last 10 years. Makes one wish we went out and got an MBA, then spend the next 30+ years cimbing the corporate ladder to get to the top. Oh well, back to WoW.

  • avatar

    It’s worth every penny to get rid of that incompetent.

  • avatar

    Look on the bright side, maybe he’ll manage his own money. If he does, he’ll be flipping burgers at White Castle in about a year.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    What tax bracket does $5M per year put you into?

  • avatar

    I wonder if he’ll get the same kind of attention as AIG and the bonuses. It might help wake people up to how the “buy American” thing is a bit naive in many ways. Its sad, but life is also so sweet. Ignorance is not bliss. Thank God everything happens for a reason.

  • avatar


    His pension is bankruptcy-proof. Even if he was at the helm during a bankruptcy, nobody could do a damn thing about it.

    On the larger topic:

    Look folks, this is being bandied about to distract you from the fact that the President of the United States just fired the CEO of a corporation. All of you whining about pensions and bonuses should understand that a sacrosanct line has been crossed and it does NOT bode well for the future of corporate America or for any of us. You should be mad as hell that the President or any of his advisers would consider doing this and you should be concerned about what they may do next.

  • avatar

    Best $21M GM ever spent…now they need to get rid of Wagoner’s cronies. I say $200M of bailout goes to give them all early buyouts and save GM from it’s lack of leadership and focus (it’s not like they aren’t doing this to the UAW).

  • avatar

    While I hate to defend GM, it should be pointed out that all who make it to the CEO chair become wealthy. Even bad ones.

    Just like professional football or baseball players. Or movie stars.

    Also, many would-be CEOs are well off before taking the top job. And yes, in GM’s case I know this sounds quite lame.

  • avatar

    Thank you, gslippy. You’ve got it straight. Class envy is useless and petty and a political diversionary tool. Don’t like your pay rate? Go get your education and work yer ass off and eventually you’ll get paid.

    “Firing” the CEO of the biggest auto manufacturer on the planet takes some stones. This is the foot in the door guys like Obama and Co. need to set the precedent for future action against other private companies. It’s the insidious creep of government that has all the conservatives freaked out, one hand on their guns and the other covering their gaping mouths in disbelief.

    Last week it was AIG. The week before it was the banks. This week it’s the auto industry. Next week? Sigh.

    Don’t take the money. Ever.

    It’s a shame that car talk and politics are no longer mutually exclusive.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Look folks, this is being bandied about to distract you from the fact that the President of the United States just fired the CEO of a corporation.”

    Nonsense. GM’s banker of last resort made removal of the boss a contingency before fronting the company any more money. Happens all the time.

    You can argue that GM never should have asked the government for money, and you can argue that the money never should have been given … and you would be on solid ground. But, to argue that the money should be given without any say in who is going to run the show is just silly.

  • avatar

    All of you whining about pensions and bonuses should understand that a sacrosanct line has been crossed and it does NOT bode well for the future of corporate America or for any of us.

    That line has been crossed, crossed back, stomped on and otherwise redrawn several times over the last two hundred years, for both good and ill. The US popped it’s statist cherry a long, long time ago, and just like real life, second virginity doesn’t really count.

    Think about it: on a scale of the signing of the constitution to things like the suspension of habeas corpus, alien and sedition acts and the civil war, this barely rates. Heck, does this even make it to the level of Watergate? This is, at most, the government leveraging, if not yet recouping, it’s investment.

  • avatar
    El Galloviejo

    97.18% of us TTAC posters (Best and Britest®) will enjoy this –
    so just copy and paste away.

  • avatar

    And to think the assembly line workers were feeling sorry for him, calling him a scapegoat and a fall guy. How many workers could be paid with that 20 million? How much of your tax money ended up in that account? Since GM is for all purposes bankrupt this makes the AIG debacle slim by comparison.

    This is one guy waltzing off with 20 large. Plus whatever pay he earned this quarter. Plus all the luscious pay and benefits these past years.

    Only in America.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    It would have saved GM billions to have paid RR $200 million (10 times as much) and fired him five years ago.

  • avatar


    I hate to break it to you, but AIG is bankrupt as well.

    There is also a very large difference in the situations; the people that got the bonuses at AIG were the ones that made the bad bets and knew that what they were doing was wrong. Even though Rick was a failed executive, he honestly thought that what he was doing was right. (and he didn’t intentionally make bad bets for GM, he just didn’t do everything that he could to fix the company) Plus, before he became CEO, Rick was an executive for many many years, which is included in this pension.

    Here’s something I don’t understand that maybe some of you class-warfare people can explain to me: Why do you feel it necessary to demonize these people? Is this anger and hatred really a necessary part of this discussion? Isn’t it enough to understand that the culture at these companies must change without going after these individuals personally?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Here’s something I don’t understand that maybe some of you class-warfare people … ”

    Let me ask these questions of those who like to use the class-warfare accusation:

    Is it class warfare when highly paid executives tell blue- and white- collar employees that their jobs are being sacrificed in the name of higher profits, while at the same time taking an ever larger share of the corporate treasury as compensation for their own efforts?

    Is it class warfare when the executives treat themselves to a far superior benefits package than the regular folks get?

    Is it class warfare when workers in the US are pitted against workers in China?

    Is it class warfare when buyout funds scoop up companies, raid the pension funds, load the business up with debt in order to pay themselves massive special dividends and lay off people in a desperate attempt to pay those debts?

    It seems to me that plenty of class warfare has been waged in recent decades by the few with control of the financial purse against the many who are trying to simply make a living.

  • avatar

    Bush fired the CEOs of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and AIG. That line was crossed before Obama took office.

  • avatar

    ““Firing” the CEO of the biggest auto manufacturer on the planet takes some stones. This is the foot in the door guys like Obama and Co. need to set the precedent for future action against other private companies.”

    GM and Chrysler stopped being a corporation and became welfare maggots the day they took stolen loot from the Federal Mafia…GM and Chrysler are taxpayer-owned welfare states now and not “corporations”.

    It is vitally important to human freedom not to buy anything from these thieving little wastrels.

  • avatar

    All the money in the world cannot clear his conscience. He has destroyed what was once the world’s largest carmaker .

  • avatar

    Dear Mr. Wagoner:

    Congratulations on your “Golden Parachute”. I, for one, am not envious of your severance package. You earned every single penny of it toiling at your job-for-life with General Motors. In fact, it may not have been nearly enough money. Not enough money to cushion you from what is going to be the next biggest topic in M.B.A programs; not enough to cushion you from the jibes and jokes from all the television and internet political and business pundits. Not enough to let you escape being the biggest business legend of all time.

    Yes, that’s right. $20 million for leaving your mark on history as the biggest business failure of all time. It’s not enough to insulate you from the muttering of the masses and posturing of the pundits, sadly. It’s not enough to save you from the scorn and ridicule sure to be heaped upon you in the dozens, nay hundreds of books and studies that will flood the market in a short time.

    $20 million surely will not buy your family anonymity during the next several decades, when your name becomes synonymous with business failure. And have no doubts on that score, either. “Doing a Wagoner”, or some alternate version, will enter the lexicon in the next few months, with all it’s attendant humiliation and embarrasment.

    $20 million just seems so paltry, so miniscule compared to your and your children’s future discomfort.

    What will your future be like, I wonder. Will it be a golden sunset of lectures and lucrative personal appearance fees? Perhaps a seven figure advance for your autobiography? A happy retirement spent playing golf and hanging with all your former GM buddies? I don’t think so, actually. My advice would be to take your pension and disappear quietly, perhaps move to South America or some desolate island in the Pacific where you won’t have to witness the mockery that your business career will be sure to generate.

    To be honest, I would have paid ten times that figure to hasten your exit from General Motors, to replace you with a person that had the cojones to do what had to be done. I believe you knew what had to be done but lacked the moral fiber and courage to do so. General Motors could have been saved. You just didn’t have the fortitude to do the job.

    Don’t worry, though, your legend has been carved in granite. We will not soon forget the name of Rick Wagoner, AKA Red Ink Rick. $20 million just seems so niggardly an amount.

    I hope you spend it wisely. Enjoy your legacy.



    P.S. I have owned many GM products, and been grieviously disappointed by several of them, but if you had done what was needed and restored GM to it’s rightful place in the Automotive Pantheon, I would have forgiven GM and bought another Chevrolet or Pontiac. As I’m sure millions of North Americans would also have done.

  • avatar

    Obama wielded the same power that a private capital firm could wield. That is “if you want my money, then fire the guy in charge.”

    There’s nothing special here. It’s not like AIG, where the government took special steps that another owner couldn’t to punish its employees.

  • avatar
    Michigan SmallBiz

    Rick Waggoner has more integrity in his spit than all you “what has the goverment done for me lately whiners” put together. How many of you have dealt with an unfair global economy? How many of you have to meet payroll and pay corporate tax upon tax? How many have to deal with “affirmative action, with regards to meeting goverment demands?” What a lame and weak country we are becoming. $20 million…..Rick…enjoy it, you deserved more!
    GM will still be here, although not in the same way we once knew it. All I can say is, be careful what you ask for…cause it might just come true. I cannot wait till the next election. Hopefully Barack Hussein Obama makes it that long.

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