CEO's salary not sitting well with laid off workers

By Crystal Britt

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Some recently laid off workers at a local business are fuming over some recent news.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri employees want to know why their company's CEO just got a multi-million dollar raise, and fat bonus to boot.

As we've reported last Thursday the company, a subsidiary of Wellpoint, announced it's laying off 125 employees at it's Cape Girardeau location due to a loss in membership.

As if workers weren't disgruntled all ready, this just adds fuel to the fire.

"It's sad...very sad. There's been tons of tears shed."

That's how an anonymous Blue Cross Blue Shield employee describes her current work environment.

She asked Heartland News to conceal her identity in hopes of not jeopardizing her final days at the company.

"The morale in our office is very very very bad."

This week while doing some research online about the company that employee along with several others found out a lot more than they cared to about Wellpoint's CEO.

"I was shocked."

Executive Angela Braly is getting a 51% raise, and at least three other top executives are receiving compensation increases of as much as 75%, the company confirms. Braly's salary reportedly is going from $8.7 million to $13.1 million.

Braly is also getting a $1.5 million performance bonus.

"Our last performance bonus was between 2 and 3 hundred dollars...for the whole year. Our raises were 2%", said the employee.

Wellpoint defends the pay increases.

PR Director Deb Wiethop out of the St. Louis office tells Heartland News, "Wellpoint as a whole had a good 2009 despite the tough economy". She went on to say the CEO's compensation included some restricted stock awards which is not take home cash.

Wiethop also said "Braly is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and was profiled by Forbes to be the fourth most powerful woman in 2008."

Wiethop noted, Braly's salary was below the median when it comes to other top executives.

Many laid off workers aren't impressed.

"Not only are we out, but the community is out because we're not putting money back into the economy, and we're not able to do anything. "We'll have to draw unemployment, and now everyone else is going to have to support us and our families."