Edison Rewards Workers $19 Million
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ About 12,000 employees at Southern California Edison were paid approximately $19 million this week under a plan that rewards workers for meeting company goals.
The payment made this week represents the minimum amount the company is obligated to pay as part of its compensation plan, Edison officials said Friday. A discretionary portion, which was paid to employees last year, is being withheld because of the company’s precarious financial condition.
``From my perspective, this is an unfortunate situation,″ said Michael Mendez, Edison’s vice president of human resources. ``By and large, our employees keep the lights on and worked hard to meet their goals. But the energy crisis has put us in the situation where our financial performance is where it is and as a result, the payout under this program is at the minimum.″
Mendez said the average payout was $1,600, which represents about 2.3 percent of base salary. The payments are taxable. The payments were made to 12,000 employees, about 5,500 of whom are covered by a union contract.
No executives received payments under the plan, he said, although some recipients are department managers and supervisors.
Last year, the payments made under the company’s ``Results Sharing″ program amounted to about $80 million, reflecting Edison’s financial performance for the year 1999, he said.
Mendez said it was important to make the payments because the utility is experiencing problems attracting and retaining employees. He estimated, based on current turnover, that Edison would lose about 650 workers by the end of the year. That compares with 450 people in 2000 and 400 in 1999, he said.
Pacific Gas and Electric drew sharp criticism in April when it awarded raises and bonuses to midlevel managers, secretarial staff and other support staff hours before it filed for bankruptcy protection. No money was distributed to rank-and-file union members who already received a wage increase as part of their contract.