Des Moines, IA, April 19, 2012 — According to data released by the AFL-CIO on April 19th, CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies got an average of $12.9 million in 2011 – a 14 percent raise. Iowans can see how their yearly salary stacks up next to Iowa CEOs’ annual pay using the newly designed Executive PayWatch, a searchable online databank that provides direct comparison of top CEO pay to average wages of workers including a nurse, teacher, firefighter and others.
In a launch event on April 19th, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka outlined some of the ways CEOs keep the economy out of whack, including the increasingly common practice of corporate cash hoarding and the role of mutual funds in supporting runaway executive compensation.
Trumka noted that this is the second year in a row CEO pay increased, following the 23 percent increase in 2010. In stark contrast, the average wage for Iowa workers has barely kept up with inflation.
“It just amazes me to see just how big the gap is between what the big company CEO’s in Iowa makes and what the average Iowan makes,” said Ken Sagar of the Iowa AFL-CIO. “Working people in Iowa work hard to contribute to the success of our local and state economy. If a CEO gets a windfall, the other workers who helped to make the company thrive should share that windfall?”
New features on PayWatch include data exposing swelling corporate cash stockpiles. That cash level has reached a record $2.2 trillion for U.S. corporations and another $1.5 trillion for banks in excess reserves. The site highlights companies with the highest cash hoards that have cut jobs such as Verizon Communications whose cash holdings and short term investments grew 311 percent to $14 billion between 2007 and 2011. During that period, the company thinned its employment rolls by 17.5 percent.
“The egregious corporate behavior today goes beyond the enormous levels of compensation for CEOs and glaring inequality in pay for their workers. CEOs are simply hoarding their company’s cash rather than investing capital to grow our economy and create jobs,” said Trumka.
For the first time, PayWatch includes a new database of mutual fund voting on “say-on-pay” and other executive compensation issues. Visitors to the website can learn which mutual funds are “pay enablers” verses “pay constrainers” and write their mutual funds to encourage more votes against runaway CEO pay.
PayWatch also examines the world of private equity executive pay, an area that has operated in the shadows until Mitt Romney’s candidacy began raising more serious questions about its practices.
The PayWatch launch comes two days after a massive day of mobilization where working people across the country, including [STATE—if Tax Day Rally was held], called for a fairer tax structure and for millionaires to pay their fair share.
Visitors to the PayWatch website will be empowered to write the Securities and Exchange Commission and urge them to implement the Dodd-Frank Act’s requirement that public companies disclose their ratio of CEO-to-worker pay. Trumka said the AFL-CIO campaign will work hard to defend and further implement this historic reform.