CEO pay for major U.S. companies continues to soar as income inequality and the outsourcing of good-paying American jobs increases. Outsourcing has become a hot presidential election topic with candidates calling out corporations that say they need to save money by sending jobs overseas. Meanwhile, according to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company received an annual income of $12.4 million in 2015—335 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker.
The Executive Paywatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking CEO pay, showed that in 2015 the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned about $36,900 per year, a wage that when adjusted for inflation, has remained stagnant for 50 years.
"The income inequality that exists in this country is a disgrace. We must stop Wall Street CEOs from continuing to profit on the backs of working people," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "Last month, when I stood with the Carrier workers in Indianapolis whose jobs making home heating furnaces are being shipped to northern Mexico, I saw firsthand how corporate greed destroys communities. Carrier is a subsidiary of United Technologies and its CEO Gregory Hayes made nearly $10.8 million in 2015. It’s shameful that a CEO can make that type of money and still destroy the livelihood of the hardworking people who make the company profitable."
Mondelēz International, highlighted in this year’s Paywatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. The company, which makes Nabisco products, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers, announced earlier this year that in order to reduce costs, it is sending 600 family-sustaining jobs from Illinois to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made $19.7 million in 2015—that’s $9,471.15 per hour.
"It seems that hard work doesn’t matter anymore. This is the corporate attitude," said Mary Willis, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March. "They quit me. I didn’t quit them. It used to be that places like Nabisco were proud places to work, but now workers like me are tossed to the curb despite years of dedication."
While the trend of companies putting profits over people is rampant, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.
Working families also are joining striking Verizon workers on the picket lines fighting for a fair contract. Verizon wants to ship more good jobs overseas, outsource work to low-wage contractors and transfer workers away from their families for months at a time, provoking the strike by 39,000 working men and women who help make it so profitable. Over the past three years, Verizon has made a record $39 billion in profits. In 2015, CEO Lowell McAdam made $18.3 million—498 times the average pay of a rank-and-file worker.
More information about United Technologies, Mondelēz and Verizon’s massive CEO-to-worker pay disparity and inequality among S&P 500 companies can be found at www.paywatch.org.