Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seattle Port to Vote on CEO Raise

The Port of Seattle, the nation's eighth busiest container port, may soon boast the highest paid port chief executive in the United States.

The port's governing commission will vote Tuesday on a 2 percent raise and a 2 percent lump sum payment for port CEO Tay Yoshitani, who joined the port in 2007 in the wake of a compensation scandal surrounding the departure of previous port CEO Mic Dinsmore.

The port authority, which also oversees the operations of Sea-Tac International Airport, is partially funded by taxpayer property taxes.

If approved, the raise would make Yoshitani one of the highest paid port chief executive in the nation. When Yoshitani joined the port at an annual salary of $325,000, he was, like his predecessor Dinsmore, the highest paid port executive in the nation according to a survey at the time by the American Association of Port Authorities.

Yoshitani's last raise, in 2008, boosted his annual salary to $334,000 a year, with additional annual compensation of more than $30,000 a year.

The raise and lump sum payment being considered by the port commission would boost Yoshitani's annual salary to just over $340,000 a year, with a lump sum payment of just over $6,000. Ironically, the raise, if approved, would boost Yoshitani's pay past the $339,000 a year being earned by previous CEO Dinsmore on his departure.

Yoshitani already makes more than both the Washington state governor and Seattle's mayor – who earn roughly $167,000 a year and $159,000 a year, respectively.

By comparison, the executive directors of the nation's two busiest container ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, each boasting more than triple the annual container volume of Seattle, each earn nearly identical annual salaries of about $300,000.

The non-profit group Puget Sound SAGE (Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone) is opposing the raise, arguing that Yoshitani should not be receiving additional compensation while other port employees have faced cuts and layoffs in the past year. Over the past year, the port has cut more than 100 employees and imposed furloughs on non-union employees to cut costs.