The AFL-CIO has launched its annual “PayWatch” website which reports that the average CEO received $10.4 million in total compensation in 2008.
Even as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, the median salary for CEOs of 200 large corporations increased by 4.5 percent to $1.08 million. On top of that, these corporations keep plying executives with generous freebies, despite the public outcry over private jets and other executive perks.
…the perks for executives rose on average by 12.5 percent in 2008 to $336,248–or nine times the median salary of a full-time worker. Even more appalling is the practice of rewarding executives who drive their companies into the ground.
For example, the site reports that in 2007–the year the financial crisis began to unfold–the top 10 recipients of the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) collectively paid their CEOs a combined $242 million in total annual compensation. That averages nearly $25 million per CEO to run companies that might have gone bankrupt if not for billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.
While CEO pay is down from 2007, it still dramatically outpaces earnings by workers. CEO pay has grown at an astronomical rate since 1980 when the average CEO earned 42 times what the average worker earned. In 2007, that had grown to 344 times.
The AFL-CIO also highlights a number of practices from stock options to retention bonuses that are keeping CEO pay high even as public outrage of CEO pay grows.
All of this is another reminder of why we need reforms like the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to level the playing field between workers and CEOs. Strong unions and a revitalized labor movement are essential to reversing this dynamic.