CEO Pay Soars As Worker Pay Stagnates

How’s your job going – if you even have one? The odds are very, very high that you haven’t seen a raise in a long time. Or maybe you were laid off and found a new job at half your old pay. They say this is the “new normal.”

Meanwhile, CEO pay just keeps climbing and climbing and climbing (and climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing). This inequality is destabilizing our economy.

Soaring CEO Pay

The AFL-CIO has released this year’s 2014 Executive PayWatch at www.PayWatch.org, a “comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies.”

PayWatch.org offers workers the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives. According to Executive PayWatch data, U.S. CEOs pocketed, on average, $11.7 million in 2013, compared to the average worker who earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker. (CEO pay was 774 times the minimum wage.)


“A Rigged Game”

In The New York Times Tuesday Joe Nocera writes, in “C.E.O. Pay Goes Up, Up and Away!” that,

When the market fell after the financial crisis, many companies gave their chief executives big option grants to “make up for” what they’d lost. When performance measures were toughened, chief executives responded by demanding larger grants because they were taking more “risk.”

It’s a rigged game. When the company’s stock goes up, says Crystal, the chief executive views himself as a hero. And when it goes down, “it’s Janet Yellen’s or Barack Obama’s fault.”

Yes, it’s a rigged game. For CEOs it’s more and more and more pay. For regular people it’s:

  • Stagnant wages, with Republicans in Congress blocking an increase of the minimum wage.
  • Laws prohibiting cities and counties from raising the minimum wage in Republican states like Oklahoma.
  • Republicans in Congress obstructing restoring unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
  • The Paycheck Fairness Act, which addresses unequal pay between men and women, being filibustered by Senate Republicans.

Real People

Along with comprehensive data on CEO pay at many companies, PayWatch.org is focusing on Walmart, Kellogg’s, Reynolds, Darden Restaurants and T-Mobile and providing the stories of real people working at these companies. The post PayWatch: CEO Pay Hits ‘Insane Level’ at the AFL-CIO Now blog explains,

In 2013 Walmart CEO Michael T. Duke received $20,693,545 in total compensation. PayWatch points out that a minimum wage worker at Walmart would have had to work 1,372 hours just to earn what Duke made in an hour. Tiffany, a Walmart worker and mother of two in Maryland, said:

I earned about $12,000 last year as a full-time employee. These poverty wages force my family to receive public assistance. Currently, we are enrolled in the public health care program for low-income families, and the Women, Infants and Children program for my infant daughter.

Check out the CEO-to-Worker Pay ratio in your state.

The Never-Appearing SEC Pay Ratio Rule

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation required the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to come up with a rule requiring companies to disclose the ratio of CEO compensation to worker compensation. The SEC dragged its feet through 2010, and then it dragged its feet through 2011, and then it dragged its feet through 2012, and then it dragged its feet through 2013, and then in September the SEC belatedly proposed a rule. Seven months later they are still dragging their feet on implementing this rule.

Click here to tell Congress to “raise the wage!”

Minimum wage workers are not just teenagers bagging groceries at the corner store. They’re not all go-getters on the first rung of the ladder to the American dream. They are mostly women, disproportionately of color and in service industries where there’s no way up or out.

They’re the men and women who hand you your change, clear off your tray and say “have a nice day” on your way out the door.

They haven’t had a raise in years. In fact, their pay has gone down because it’s not indexed to inflation.

Join The Nation and Campaign for America’s Future in calling on Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

Also Campaign for America’s Future has set up a special phone number – (661) BOEHNER – that will connect you directly to House Speaker John Boehner, so you can demand he allow a vote on the Senate bill to restore unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

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