DETROIT -- Delphi Corp. CEO Steve Miller said Monday that he has slashed his annual salary to $1 a year. But he's keeping his $3 million signing bonus.
In addition, 20 top executives who were at the company when Miller joined Delphi in June have waived 10 percent of their annual base pay, or 20 percent in the case of President Rodney O'Neal, the company said. The changes are effective Jan. 1.
Miller has been criticized by hourly workers and the UAW for granting in bankruptcy protection new potential severance and stock for executives while asking unionized workers for wage and benefit cuts of about 60 percent.
Miller said in a media conference call Monday that he couldn't ask hourly workers to make those kinds of sacrifices while earning a salary of $1.5 million annually.He said he would not give back his signing bonus of $3 million taken when he was hired in June by the Troy, Mich., supplier.
A 60 percent cut in average hourly wages from $25 an hour to $10 an hour equates to an annual cut in wages, without benefits, to $20,800 from $52,000. The poverty threshold nationally for a family of four is $19,350 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Miller and the Delphi board of directors put Delphi's U.S. operations in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 8, citing uncompetitive hourly wages, benefits and retiree costs.
Miller said he would take $1 annually in salary until Delphi leaves bankruptcy protection, projected for sometime in 2007. He added that he would receive "zero bonus, zero severance, zero pension plan and will have no other similar entitlements whatsoever."
During the telephone conference, Miller distanced Delphi from comments made in The Wall Street Journal Monday by Choon Chon, Delphi's vice president of Asian Pacific operations, who referred to the UAW as a tumor.
"Our mother has a tumor. This tumor is the UAW," Chon was quoted as having said.
Miller said English is not Chon's first language. He said the comments do not reflect the attitude of Delphi management.
Delphi's bankruptcy case is the largest in U.S. automotive history. The filing brought into clear focus long-standing fears that the U.S. auto industry was doomed to follow airlines and steel mills by slashing formerly robust wages and retirement plans.
As part of its restructuring, Delphi has said it will need to drastically reduce the pay and benefits of hourly workers as well as cut the number of salaried workers and close or sell a substantial part of its North American operations to allow it to regain profitability.
Delphi has about 50,600 U.S. employees, including 34,750 hourly workers who are almost all represented by unions. The UAW represents about 25,000 Delphi workers.
Miller had previously said company executives were underpaid compared with rivals. A company attorney also had defended a bonus plan, saying some senior executives would be, in effect, writing business plans or performing tasks that would put them out of jobs, and Delphi wanted them to have incentive to complete the work.
"While I remain concerned about the below-market compensation paid to many of our key executives, Delphi's transformation message must be unambiguous and marked indelibly by the commitment of Delphi's leadership," Miller said in an earlier written statement.
Delphi said the balance of compensation arrangements for its executives would be decided by the bankruptcy court at a Nov. 29 hearing.
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contributed to this report.