UNION CHALLENGES DOMINION OVER HIGH SALARIES - Corporate Executive Getting $7.2 Million

By Bob Weaver

A union linked to Dominion Resources Inc. is seeking more shareholder oversight over the pay of the company's top executives.

The Utility Workers Union of America has proposed changing Dominion's corporate bylaws to require shareholder approval of executives who receive pay exceeding $1 million.

The union is also asking for detailed disclosure of incentive-pay plans for executives.

The initiative followed the disclosure that Dominion executive pay rose last year while profit declined.

Dominion Chairman and CEO Thomas E. Capps was paid $7.22 million: $1.1 million in salary, $1.4 million in bonus and the remainder in other compensation.

The corporate executives gave each other raises.

Dominion has recently raised natural gas prices in West Virginia, and in recent years has downsized the company, sometimes reducing employee benefits.

The proposal will be voted on by Dominion shareholders by proxy or at their annual meeting in Cleveland on April 23.

Union members are exercising their rights as stockholders.

The union and many of its members, as Dominion shareholders, have a critical interest in trying to reform the executive compensation practices.

Mark Brooks, a Nashville, Tenn., lawyer said many unions have pension funds heavily invested in U.S. corporations, and have become more active in executive compensation and other corporate governance matters.

Recent collapse of pension and health care benefits have become a problem with several of America's largest corporations.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the AFL-CIO, for example, are pushing shareholder proposals that would limit severance and pension benefits for senior American Electric Power executives.

Dominion's management unsuccessfully tried to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to kill the union's shareholder proposal.