$73 million package puts CEO Culp’s pay at 1,357 times median GE employee

The main gate of General Electric's Schenectady campus is shown in 2018. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

The main gate of General Electric's Schenectady campus is shown in 2018. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

BOSTON — General Electric’s CEO had a good year in 2020, as the world economy and GE itself had some ups and downs.

Lawrence Culp Jr. voluntarily forfeited most of his $2.5 million annual salary, instead taking home $653,409, and also forfeited his bonus, according to a proxy statement issued Thursday ahead of the May stockholder meeting.

However, he landed $72,054,874 in stock awards — $15 million in annual equity awards as spelled out in his contract, the rest a Leadership Performance Share Award designed to reflect the importance of his role in leading the company’s transition and incentivize him to remain in the position through the process, which is likely to take longer than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Culp also got a $463,799 bump in pension value and $19,950 in other compensation.

The great bulk of the pay is conditional — the company must perform well under Culp’s watch if he is to collect it — but the total sum is eye-catching: $73,192,032.

The proxy also noted that the median total compensation per employee was $53,928, making the CEO Pay Ratio 1,357-to-1 at GE in 2020.

The median compensation — half of GE’s employees earned more, half earned less — was determined by reviewing compensation to employees, excluding Culp himself and 8,613 employees in 80 countries where GE has only a small presence.

Chris Depoalo, business agent for IUE-CWA Local 301, which represents GE production workers in Schenectady, said Friday that no one — Culp, other CEOs, professional athletes — should be paid such significant sums.

“I’m disgusted by anyone making that kind of money,” he said. “I’d rather see that money invested in making jobs for Americans.”

When he came aboard in late 2018, Culp inherited and accelerated GE’s transition from a large conglomerate to a lean, efficient industrial company.

General Electric has since sold business, shuttered facilities and cut jobs in its remaining operations. The company had 283,000 employees at the end of 2018 and shrank to 174,000 by the end of 2020.

Amid the COVID pandemic, GE stock tanked and soared in 2020 to the lowest and highest values of Culp’s tenure.

That median employee, by the way, is a U.S.-based worker at GE’s Aviation business.

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