<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Fat Cats Getting Fatter  

I came across an article recently that I
have been thinking about. The more
I think about it, the more I have thought
that this issue should be brought to
everyone's attention. I knew the problem
was bad, but was unaware of the extent
of it. These corporate fat cats are getting
filthy rich in every way possible, just
dancing around the edges of what is
legal, never mind what is ethical and fair.

The example I am talking about can be
found here by Ethan C. Nobles at The
Morning News/NWAonline.net on Oct 5.

He just comes out with it right off the
bat and lets you know what the truth is:

The benefits of being an Arkansas business
executive often go beyond what's disclosed
in standard filings with the federal Securities
and Exchange Commission.

Take Springdale's Tyson Foods. Family
members of company founder John Tyson
and former executives receive compensation
from the company for "lease agreements" and
"other transactions."


He then lists some of the perks for having
been so blessed at birth as to have the
Tyson name and legacy:

John Tyson, the founder's grandson, is currently
the chairman and chief executive officer of Tyson.

According to Tyson's proxy, prepared Jan. 2,
Tyson Family Aviation LLC received $2.04 million
in lease payments from the corporation. Also,
Tyson Foods paid $1.84 million leasing swine or
poultry facilities in which Tyson family members
had an interest last year.

Don Tyson, former senior chairman of the board,
received $3.52 million last year for the company's
use of a wastewater treatment facility near a Tyson
Foods processing plant in Nashville. Don Tyson, son
of the elder John Tyson, received another $2.03
million for the company's use of a wastewater
treatment facility in Springdale last year. The
wastewater facilities, according to the proxy, are
owned by the Tyson Limited Partnership and
"entities of which Don Tyson is a principal."

Don Tyson, additionally, signed a contract after
he retired as senior chairman on Oct. 19, 2001.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tyson is to
provide advisory services to the company and
receive $800,000 plus travel expenses and health
and life insurance benefits for a period of 10 years.


Even Jon Johnson, associate professor of
management at the University of Arkansas' Sam
M. Walton College of Business had to admit:

"It's kind of hard to say what's excessive
and what's not."


Mr. Johnson even goes on to make a few more
very interesting observations:

Johnson said such perks have drawn the attention
of investors over the past couple of years. He said
the failure of companies such as Houston's Enron
or Worldcom in Ashburn, Va., has investors taking
a hard look at corporate governance and how
money is spent.


Of course, as usual, Tyson has a wonderfully
vague solution to the problem - a committee.
They just "committee" all kinds of things.
Their typical way of handling things in these
"committees" is to talk the situation to death
and never really do anything. They handle
everything they can this way, everything
from workers' complaints to this kind of thing.

Here is their statement:

"We have had a committee of outside independent
members of our board of directors in place since
1996 to review transactions with our directors or
executive officers and make a determination as to
whether the transactions are fair to the company.
That committee is now known as the governance
committee."

But, of course. We can't forget the proper name.
The name of the committee is everything. It is
what actually implies that the company is doing
everything properly.

The same goes for the idea of this "committee"
being "independent." That just means that
they are not employees for Tyson, not that
they don't get paid by Tyson.

After everything else that I have presented
on this site, how far are you willing to trust
Tyson when they just basically say, "You'll
have to take our word for it."
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