Never mind Macy’s huge Santa display and legendary holiday parade, a progressive group is accusing its CEO of behaving like a “Grinch.”
On Thursday, the Progressive Congress — a nonprofit representing 75 liberal congressmen — announced that it gathered 100,000 signatures for a petition urging the department store’s CEO, Terry Lundgren, to drop out of a high-profile lobbying group. It accused Lundgren of “violating the trust” of families who see the company as a “symbol of home and holidays.”
Lundgren is one of 71 CEOs of public companies in the Fix The Debt coalition, which is lobbying to narrow the deficit by scaling back programs like Medicare and Social Security. The coalition backs lower corporate tax rates as well as a “territorial tax system,” which could save corporations up to $134 billion in taxes on overseas income.
Macy’s declined to comment to The Huffington Post for this story.
Fix the Debt CEOs have been criticized for suggesting cuts to the social safety net, while not fully contributing to tax revenue. Macy’s paid a lower-than-average tax rate between 2008 and 2010 — 12.1 percent of its profit — compared to a retail industry average of 30 percent, according to the most recent data available from the Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit research group.
The coalition’s members are also under fire for not compensating workers for cuts to social programs, although Macy’s offers better jobs than are typical in the retail industry; many Macy’s workers receive commissions on top of hourly wages, and the store offers health benefits to some employees. The company also contributes to employee pensions — $375 million in 2011 and $825 million in 2010,according to its annual report.
Lundgren, who has been with Macy’s for 30 years, received a base salary of $1.55 million in 2011 with a bonus of $5.1 million, according to the company’s 2012 proxy statement.
In September, Lundgren explained his position on the fiscal cliff in a video posted by Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs. “The greatest challenge that we face today is the gridlock we have in D.C. and the inability to make decisions that help the business community,” he says. “We’re uncompetitive with the world with our tax structure.”
The coalition includes politically outspoken executives like Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, as well as other CEOs of consumer-facing companies like Delta Airlines, Foot Locker and Starwood Hotels. Annie Weinberg, the associate director of the Progressive Congress, said that her organization picked Macy’s because of the company’s symbolic importance to Americans.
“So many families shop at Macy’s, and they’re not expecting the CEO to be aggressively lobbying for policies that will hurt middle-class families and the elderly,” said Weinberg. “It’s not in the spirit of Christmas.”
Being the brand that personifies the Christmas spirit does have downsides, it seems. Macy’s has also been a recent target for critics of Donald Trump, who are pressuring the company to eliminate the real estate mogul’s line of clothing after Trump made controversial comments about President Barack Obama. The “Dump Trump” campaign sparked protests at the company’s flagship Herald Square store in November.