CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 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 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years.
“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations continually find ways to rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run. Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies 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, is leading the race to the bottom. Last year, it closed the Oreo cookie line at the iconic Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 family-sustaining jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour.
“Greedy CEOs are continuing to get rich off the backs of working people,” said Michael Smith, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March of 2016. “I loved working at Nabisco, and I took pride in the work I did to make a quality product. It’s not as if the company isn’t profitable. The Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue, and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us made in a year. I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”
While companies are continuing to put profits over people, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.
The Paywatch site also highlights U.S. corporations that don’t pay taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes and reinvesting back into the community.