United Auto Workers President Bob King on Tuesday criticized the nearly $60 million in stock awards given to Ford CEO Alan Mulally earlier this month.
King spoke at a union meeting that sets goals for bargaining a new labor contract with automakers later this year.
"I think Alan Mulally is a great CEO, but I don't think any human being in the world deserves that much money," King said at the opening of a three-day UAW convention in Detroit. The UAW's current contract with Detroit's three automakers expires Sept. 14
Mulally received stock valued at $56.6 million, before taxes, for his performance in 2009 and 2010. His total compensation for 2010 hasn't yet been released.
Ford Motor Co. responded that Mulally's leadership has been "widely recognized as extraordinary." Ford earned $6.6 billion in 2010, its biggest profit in 11 years.
"His compensation reflects Ford's goal of retaining a world-class CEO, providing appropriate performance-based incentives to promote continued strong progress, and aligning his interests with those of our shareholders," the company said Tuesday.
But many of the 1,200 delegates at the convention voiced displeasure about Mulally's pay, saying the $5,000 profit-sharing checks Ford gave its 40,000 factory workers aren't appeasing their anger.
Ford workers "felt like they were slapped," said Todd Wyse, a member of Local 249 in Pleasant Valley, Mo. "Mulally set the plan up, but we achieved the plan."
The UAW bargains with Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC every four years. In 2007, when the economy was heading into a downturn and the companies' future was in doubt, workers gave up raises and agreed to allow the companies to hire entry-level workers at a lower wage. Now that Ford and GM are profitable again, and Chrysler is close to achieving a profit, workers want to take back some of those concessions.
King said the union has to strike a balance and not make demands that will weaken the companies. The automakers are still recovering from the recession and are facing a variety of problems. They include higher gas prices that could steer buyers toward less profitable small cars and production slowdowns due to a shortage of parts from Japan.
King said the union is also working on a plan to organize workers at a foreign-owned automaker in the U.S. He confirmed that UAW members went door to door in Alabama last month talking to workers from Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Co., but he wouldn't say which company the union will target. The union is talking to various companies about whether they will allow union elections at their plants.
King also said the UAW is trying to organize workers at a Honda Motor Co. plant in Mexico.