The new bonuses, which cover 42 top executives, include nine of Tribune’s 10 top-ranking corporate leaders, according to papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.
They are in addition to $57.4 million worth of bonuses already approved by a bankruptcy judge over the protests of unions whose members lost jobs due to the company’s financial struggles. The earlier bonuses were paid out between May 2009 and February 2010.
They were explaining the logic behind these big bonuses even for failure on NPR the other day. Apparently the "bonus" is often just an unfortunate term, where it's actually part of their salary. That end of the year (or in the event of termination) balloon payment is a negotiated part of the contract, not an actual performance bonus.
The issue is, did the laid-off employees get whatever severance was agreed to in their employment contracts? If they got what they agreed to, they've got no grounds to complain really. If the didn't, that's a whole other matter.