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J&J Freezes Some Salaries and Bonuses -- What Will "Fake Bill Weldon" Say?

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is futzing with its employees' salaries and bonuses. The intent is to make compensation "consistent and equitable" across J&J's jumbled archipelago of 250 companies in 57 countries, many with entirely separate names and management trees. The move seems ripe for commentary from the fake "Bill Weldon," a parody of J&J's CEO that is taking on a life of its own on CafePharma, the notorious anonymous hangout where drug company employees snipe at each other and trade gossip.

The WSJ reported:

Performance bonus targets will increase for 27% of its employees, remain the same for 35% and decrease for 38%, according to the announcement made inside J&J. For various types of yearly stock bonuses, "more people will be impacted with decreases," the announcement said, without elaborating.
Those with salaries above their pay grade will receive lump-sum payments instead of raises, starting in 2011, ...
One person who probably won't be affected is J&J's real CEO, William Weldon. His compensation package is about $29.3 million, according to page 43 of this SEC disclosure. All of it comes in the form of bonuses except for a $1.8 million salary and $8 million in pension benefits.

Weldon's outsized compensation is a sore point among his employees. In addition to the bonus shuffle, Weldon previously announced he was axing 8,100 workers from J&J's 115,000 workforce. At the same time, Weldon bought himself an $8 million waterfront vacation home in Miami.

To put that largess in perspective, Pfizer (PFE) CEO Jeff Kindler makes less than half what Weldon gets, even though Pfizer is a lot bigger than J&J.

Some of the grumbling has taken the form of a monthly letter "From the Desk of Bill Weldon" addressed to all J&J employees on CafePharma. Since November, the fake Bill Weldon has cancelled J&J's office coffee budget in order to expand the company's R&D pipeline, wished laid-off workers well ("we truly touch the unemployment line worldwide"), and described the view from his beach house.

The letters began just before Thanksgiving with this message:

It gives me great pleasure to let each of you know that for the second time this year, I will be handing out personally autographed turkeys to any J&J displaced (terminated) employee. In order to save money, coffee will not be provided, this money will be directed to Research & Development and further expanding our robust pipeline.
Just before the Christmas break, fake Bill Weldon was in a reflective mood:
As Barbara and I relax on the shore line of our recently acquired $8.5 million dollar property, on one hand I reflect with mixed emotions over 2009.....and in the other hand--one hell of a margarita.
In January, fake Bill Weldon had some New Year's resolutions:
First, I have hired the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to conduct a comprehensive review of this 'toxic waste dump of a company' we call Johnson & Johnson.

Second, the Credo in its current format will cease to exist. This document has been violated so many times, it make Jenna Jameson look like Mother Teresa.

(The Credo is J&J's code of ethics.) The letters are fairly popular -- about 3,000 people have viewed them. Some have even started writing letters in reply.

Two days ago, disaster struck, as the fake board of directors replaced the fake CEO's monthly message with a letter of their own. Weldon was being downsized to save money:

Gurvinder Singh, a tele-technician for Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will assume the office of Chief Executive Officer, as of March 1, 2009. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month, but no health coverage or other benefits.
Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issue at all.
All of fake Bill Weldon's letters carry the same sign-off: "Until next month, May God Bless America and May God Bless J&J."
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