US Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi's executive compensation last year eclipsed $13 million. That windfall, consisting of a $1.2 million base salary, $7.5 million in stock awards, and $4 million in "nonequity incentive plan compensation," amounted to a $7.6 million raise from 2013.
Still, despite having its most profitable year since 2008 — it reported $275 million in fourth-quarter net profits alone — the 144-year-old American industrial icon is asking for a sweet new batch of welfare from the state of Minnesota.
Specifically, US Steel wants a reduction in the cost of its state-owned mining leases. And if the company's successful, the welfare will come at the expense of Minnesota schools.
The state's biggest taconite ore producer wants to reduce costs as it retools its Iron Range operations. Company officials have yet to specify what kind of rate decease they're asking for. Yet any drop would invariably result in less cash for the state's permanent school trust and funds that benefit the University of Minnesota system.
But if US Steel is having money troubles, it might want to look inward. Longhi's eye-popping raise arrived about the same time the world ore market was declining due to lack of demand.
Earlier this year, the company announced plans to indefinitely hibernate its MinnTac and Keewatin Taconite operations starting in June. It also mapped out a new plan to scale back production and trim energy and land lease costs.
But any sacrifice by its executives was apparently off the table.
The company, which employees 1,000 Minnesotans at the two facilities, says it must rein in costs by about $25 million before it can even think about reopening its Iron Range properties.
It remains uncertain whether or not state officials will cave. But the Range's lack of economic diversity provides leverage for the steelmaker that earlier this year announced it was laying off some 2,000 of its 23,000 North American workers at plants in Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Texas, and Ohio.
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