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Amtrak rewarded executives with six-figure bonuses as rail service struggled

John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union, whose members include nearly 1,500 service workers, mechanics and inspectors at Amtrak, said he was disgusted by the payments.

“They gave themselves nice fat bonuses on the backs of workers exposed to danger,” he said. “It just underscores why there should be worker representatives on Amtrak’s board of directors.”

No bonuses were awarded in 2015, but in 2016 the rail service provided incentive compensation to senior executives. He spent no more than $500,000 a year on payments in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as he cut his losses.

That changed in 2019. As Amtrak neared breakeven, the amount of bonuses paid to senior executives nearly quadrupled to a total of nearly $1.8 million, from just over $480,000 last year. last year. Amtrak paid no more bonuses in 2020 as the virus brought travel to a virtual standstill. But in 2021, he paid out $2.3 million, despite his lowest earnings and biggest losses in more than a decade.

Stephen Gardner, who became Amtrak’s chief executive this year, has received more than $766,000 in short-term incentive awards since 2016, more than any other executive. Eleanor Acheson, the service’s general counsel and corporate secretary, was a close second, having received nearly $727,000 during that time. Amtrak declined to provide a fuller picture of how its executives are compensated, including salaries.

Of the dozen members of Amtrak’s current management team, all 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 president at the time.