Bonus for US Steel CEO as workers face layoffs has MN lawmakers upset

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United States Steel announced last week it will be idling one of its Minnesota plants to cut costs. But now state lawmakers are speaking out after learning the company's CEO's pay more than doubled in 2014.

"The CEO should be embarrassed and offer to return his raise to the workers who have lost jobs under his watch," State Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, told the Duluth News Tribune.

U.S. Steel will idle its Keewatin, Minnesota, taconite plant in May – and that move could put more than 400 employees out of work.

Many steel companies around the country have been forced to find ways to cut costs until the market improves; the demand for steel and the global price of iron ore have been falling in recent months, and the future of the industry remains uncertain.

To help out these steel companies, Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, has been pushing bills in the state legislature to reduce some costs for taconite companies in Minnesota, including U.S. Steel. (Lawmakers in other states have done the same to help U.S. Steel employees.)

"We're trying to do what we can to help them out in this serious global situation, but then they come out with this news? This kind of greed certainly doesn't make [passing the bills] any easier," Anzelc told the Duluth News Tribune. "The arrogance of this company, of this CEO, is unbelievable."

From $5.6M to $13.2M

proxy statement filed Friday shows last year U.S. Steel had its best annual performance since 2008, and as a result of the company's improved performance and increased cash flow under CEO Mario Longhi's leadership, his compensation was increased by about 235 percent, with the company saying in the statement he "far exceeded expectations."

His total compensation for 2014 is valued at more than $13.2 million, compared to $5.6 million in 2013 (the year he became president and CEO) – his increased compensation included a "bonus" of roughly $4 million (up from $477,400 in 2013), the proxy statement shows.

John Rebrovich of the United Steelworkers of America District 11, which serves Minnesota and other Midwestern states, told the Duluth News Tribune the union has asked U.S. Steel for an explanation.

"We know this is last year's compensation. But the timing here is terrible. It makes it seem like U.S. Steel is not holding up their part of the [union contract]. We'd like them to respond to that," he said.

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