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USW report exposes Crown Holdings’ bad corporate governance

31 January, 2014On 30 January 2014 IndustriALL Global Union’s North American affiliate United Steelworkers (USW) representing workers at Crown Holdings in the U.S. and Canada recently released a new report analysing key governance problems at the company.

USW carries out research on employers with whom the union has collective bargaining relationships. The current report regards Crown Holdings Inc., a multinational corporation with 149 plants in 41 countries and 21,900 employees. Approximately 12,000 of Crown’s employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

The report highlights key corporate governance problems at Crown Holdings including:

-       Excessive executive compensation

-       Under-representation of women on Crown’s board of directors

-       A conflict of interest created by a joint CEO/board chairman

-       Inadequate performance-based pay incentives

-       Lucrative retirement benefits for company executives who are trying to impose cuts on the company’s lowest-paid workers.

The problem of lucrative retirement benefits for company executives is of particular concern of the union in light of the situation at Crown Holdings plant in Toronto, Canada.

In September 2013 Crown Holdings forced workers to go on strike after negotiations of the new collective agreement between Crown and USW Local 9176 in Toronto, Ontario, when the company tried and imposed a two-tier wage schedule, remove d a cost-of-living allowance, provided only minimal wage increases, and kept an already nine-year freeze on pensions.

The situation in Canada is not unique, in Turkey Crown Holdings still continues its union-busting practice by refusing to recognize union as its collective bargaining partner.

The problems raised in the report were also subject of the recent AFL-CIO letter sent to Hans Löliger, a Crown board member and chairman of its compensation committee.

“Findings of the report are not surprizing to us, said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary. Such bad corporate governance by Crown management has an extremely negative impact on labour relations. This is why we conduct a global campaign”.

The USW report and AFL-CIO letter are available on USW campaign website www.takebacksnomore.ca.