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At U.S. Bank, only CEO Richard Davis matters

The chasm between U.S. Bank head Richard Davis and the rest of us wouldn't appear to be getting any smaller.

The chasm between U.S. Bank head Richard Davis and the rest of us wouldn't appear to be getting any smaller.

On the last Thursday in May, New York City awakened to a soggy morning. As the sun started to climb, wispy clouds kept Manhattan from overheating. Then the patchwork of white rolled toward the ocean. An agreeable morning caved to crushing heat.

Out of this soup emerged Richard Davis. The U.S. Bank chairman and chief exec took to the podium at a conference of investors as the bearer of bad news.

If interest rates didn't rise soon, said Davis, who earned $19.4 million last year — up 79 percent from the year before — the ax would fall on company jobs. Being the virtuous corporate exec that he is, Davis also said he had held off nixing jobs thus far because he wanted to avoid hurting morale among the company's 67,000 rank-and-file.

But, he was quick to add, “If we're wrong and rates aren't actually going to move up… trust me, we will cut expenses.”

Davis' brand of cost-cutting must not include the reported $200-plus million U.S. Bank will pay over 20 years for the naming rights to the new Vikings' stadium.

“The Minnesota Vikings are a treasure for all citizens of Minnesota and our surrounding states to embrace, enjoy and enthusiastically support,” said Davis after the agreement with the team was announced.

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As for the people who actually make the bank work, they're not so much of a treasure. According to recent history, Davis appears to value his employees about as much as Minnesotans value mosquitoes.

His remarks to investors in NYC came at a time when U.S. Bancorp, Minnesota's fifth-largest publicly traded company, was reporting earnings of $1.43 billion for the most recent quarter, up from $1.4 billion in the first quarter of last year.

At the same time, it was just last year when U.S. Bank employees were forced by management to one-week unpaid vacations. It was also a year ago when workers in the company's technology and operations group were hit with salary reductions.

As bank minions were mowing the lawn during their stay-cations, Davis was in the process of swimming in a $8.5 million raise.  

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