The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Josh Goldstein (202) 637-5018

CEOs Collect Raises, Workers Collect Pink Slips

AFL-CIO President Trumka Launches 2011 Executive PayWatch and Campaign to Strengthen Wall Street Reform Searchable Online Data Bank Includes CEO Pay at 299 S&P 500 Companies


While millions of Americans struggled to get back on their feet after the worst economic downturn in decades, chief executive officers of the nation's largest companies got average pay of $11.4 million in 2010-a 23 percent increase in one year, according to Executive PayWatch (, released today by the AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said release of the searchable online data bank is part of a broad campaign to strengthen Wall Street reform, close corporate tax loopholes and ensure that poor and middle class Americans are no longer required to pay for the greed of corporate CEOs.

"Despite the collapse of the financial market at the hands of executives less than three years ago, the disparity between CEO and workers' pay has continued to grow to levels that are simply stunning," said Trumka. The AFL-CIO campaign, he said, is making hard information widely available and encourages people to contact lawmakers to defend and strengthen Wall Street reform.

Executive PayWatch's searchable data bank enables users to get information by state, industry and top-paid CEOs and compare the pay of top CEOs with the median pay of nurses, teachers, firefighters and other workers. For the first time, Facebook users will also have access to the information and to participate in the campaign.

The AFL-CIO's CEO pay estimate is based on 299 companies in the S&P 500 Index whose executive compensation data is available for 2010. The 299 CEOs received a combined total of $3.4 billion in 2010, enough compensation to support 102,325 jobs paying median wages. The median wage for all occupations was $33,190 in 2009, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"For the first time, we have hope that things can change," Trumka said, noting that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed last year gives shareholders tools to help rein in CEO pay. The new law requires public companies to begin disclosing the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay. "The law," he said, "will help investors and the public learn which companies provide fair wages and good jobs to their employees, compared with those that have outrageous CEO-to-worker pay disparities."

Pointing to attacks by some large banks and Wall Street lobbyists on the Dodd-Frank Act, Trumka said the AFL-CIO campaign will work hard to defend historic reform. "Their brazen attempts to undermine reform surprise and offend me, and I think they will surprise and offend most Americans. Apparently Wall Street doesn't want people to know that while working Americans paid for the economic crisis with their jobs, their homes and their retirement savings, these Teflon CEOs escaped unscathed," he said.

The Dodd-Frank Act also provides shareholders with 'say-on-pay' advisory votes on executive compensation. This year, Executive PayWatch highlights case studies at Occidental Petroleum, Reynolds American, Hewlett-Packard, PulteGroup, Rite Aid, and Abercrombie & Fitch where there are red flags for investors to watch for when voting on these companies' executive pay practices.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) works tirelessly to improve the lives of working people. We are the democratic, voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.