Since 1978, compensation for the CEOs of the 300 largest companies has increased by 1,460%, while an employee’s salary has increased by 18%.
There is a common element that unites the two largest union protests currently in the United States: workers want a living wage after years of stagnant or declining wages, while on the other side of the bargaining table are executives whose compensation has increased sharply year after year.
Excessive CEO pay is a frustration shared by Hollywood creatives and Detroit auto industry workers alike.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), compensation for the CEOs of the 300 largest companies in the United States has increased 1,460% since 1978, while a typical worker’s salary has barely increased by 18% (both adjusted for inflation). ), a progressive think tank.
According to EPI, these CEOs’ compensation grew 37% faster than the stock market’s growth over the same period.
This frustration is particularly acute in the U.S. auto industry, which nearly collapsed in 2008 before the federal government pumped $80 billion in taxpayer money into bankrupt Chrysler and GM.
To save the auto industry, unionized workers agreed to temporarily freeze wages and forego certain pension and health benefits.
Your reward? The average hourly wage of workers in the auto industry fell about 19% after adjusting for inflation, EPI chief economist Adam S. Hersh wrote last week.
During the same period, CEO salaries at Detroit’s three major auto companies (GM, Ford and Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent company) have risen an average of 40%, roughly equivalent to the raise now being demanded by striking workers.
GM CEO Mary Barra, the highest-paid executive of the Big Three, earned $29 million last year, a 34% increase over the past four years.
Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), argued that auto union workers were simply asking for a similar raise that reflects the companies’ performance in recent years.
“In the last four years, car prices have increased by 30%. CEO pay is up 40%… No one has complained about it, but God forbid workers demand what they’re entitled to,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week.
This year, the big three are expected to make a combined profit of more than $32 billion.
The companies argue that those profits are needed to finance the industry’s biggest shift in nearly a century: the shift to electric vehicles.