A citizen watchdog group picketed in front of American International Group’s offices in Jersey City, N.J., urging the insurer to end the practice of bonuses and rescind those already given to its employees.
New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), based in Newark, N.J., organized the protest, joined by other state organizations aligned with Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 200 national, state and local groups calling for reform in the banking and financial services industry.
Nearly 20 protestors took to the front of AIG’s offices, shouting “You got bailed out; we got sold out,” according to The Jersey Journal.
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the NJCA’s executive director, said AIG owes $182 billion in bailout funds to taxpayers, yet has promised $475 million in bonuses to employees of the Financial Products Unit that caused its downfall.
“We urge AIG to stop paying bonuses and to make the employees who have already received bonuses give them back,” Salowe-Kaye said in a statement. “Those employees should not take bonuses. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It is shameful that the CEO has received a $10.5 million compensation package, the highest pay to any chief running a bailout company.”
Paulette Eberle, co-chair of NJCA, said President Barack Obama’s “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg, needs to “demand rather than ‘suggest’” that AIG eliminate the $198 million in pending bonuses to its employees.
“Clearly, the companies awarding excessive executive pay haven’t volunteered to change their practices, so they need to be required to,” she said. “People should be compensated reasonably, but this is excessive and the U.S. taxpayer should not be paying for it.”