John Samuelsen, the president of the Transportation Workers Union, whose members include nearly 1,500 workers, engineers and inspectors at Amtrak, said he was disgusted by the payments.
“They gave themselves nice fat bonuses off the backs of workers who were exposed in a bad way,” he said. “It just underscores why there should be employee representatives on Amtrak’s board.”
No bonuses were given in 2015, but in 2016 the rail service awarded some incentive pay to top executives. It spent no more than $500,000 a year in payouts in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as it cut its losses.
That changed in 2019. With Amtrak nearing its end, the size of bonus payments to top executives nearly quadrupled, rising to a total of nearly $1.8 million, from just $480,000 the year before. Amtrak did not pay bonuses again in 2020 as the virus brought travel to a near standstill. But in 2021, it paid $2.3 million, despite reporting its lowest revenue and biggest losses in more than a decade.
Stephen Gardner, who became Amtrak’s CEO this year, has received more than $766,000 in short-term incentive bonuses since 2016, more than any other executive. Eleanor Acheson, the agency’s general counsel and corporate secretary, was far behind, receiving nearly $727,000 during that period. Amtrak declined to provide a fuller picture of how its executives are compensated, including salaries.
Of its dozens of members Amtrak’s current leadership teamall but three received bonuses of more than $200,000 last year, ranging from about $230,000 to more than $293,000 for Mr. Gardner, who was chairman at the time.