September 19, 2011; Source: Providence Business News | Lifespan, a nonprofit organization in Rhode Island that operates two Providence hospitals, is being held up as a poster child for outsized compensation packages. The United Nurses & Allied Professionals union is outraged by the fact that last year nine Lifespan executives were paid a total of $9.4 million, including $1.8 million in bonuses and $2.4 million in supplemental retirement contributions. The Lifespan CEO alone received $2.9 million in total compensation.

Lifespan might have anticipated such a reaction since it recently announced that it would cut the matching contributions to its employees’ 403(b) Fidelity plan for 2011 and eliminate the matches entirely in 2012. While the board has portrayed these cuts as necessary due to the recession and the need to reinvest in hospital infrastructure, it defends the executive salaries as necessary to retain its high-level staff. Perhaps those high-level staff need to weigh in and make a nod toward “shared sacrifice.”—Ruth McCambridge