Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Tuesday April 16th, 2013, 9:57am

AFL-CIO Launches Updated PayWatch Webpage Tracking U.S. CEO Earnings

The AFL-CIO launched its updated and expanded Executive PayWatch webpage Monday, which tracks CEO pay of some of the largest U.S. companies and highlights the country’s growing wealth inequality.

The site’s new data shows that American business executives continued to do very well for themselves last year, while average workers struggled to make ends meet, said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“These CEOs really should be ashamed for trying to balance the budget on the backs of American working people, while at the same time demanding corporate tax cuts for overseas profits,” Trumka said on a conference call with reporters. 

In 2012, the CEOs of Standard & Poor’s 500 index companies received an average of $12.3 million in pay, while rank and file American workers took home just $34,645.

CEOs made 354 times what the typical worker made last year, Trumka said, adding no other country has a ratio that high.

By comparison, Trumka noted that 30 years ago, CEOs were paid 42 times what an average worker earned.

The AFL-CIO’s website allows users to search executive pay by specific company or ticker, and it also provides a list of the 100 highest-paid CEOs.

Lawrence Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp., was the highest paid U.S. business executive in 2012, receiving $96.2 million in total compensation.

PayWatch allows users to compare CEO pay to other workers in the economy, such as a minimum wage worker and employees in specific occupations.

Ellison, for example, made 1,324 times what an average U.S. computer programmer made in 2012, the webpage shows. The U.S. president would have to work for 240 years to earn what Ellison made in 2012, when comparing the CEO's salary to what the nation's leaders are paid in that position.

The site’s new feature offers an international perspective, allowing users to search a map showing U.S. CEO pay compared to workers in other developed countries.

Users can also find out how mutual funds voted on executive pay decisions.

“Business groups like the Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt have been drumming up a deficit scare to distract attention away from America’s real economic problem and to hide their effort to get even more tax cuts for corporations while hacking at Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Trumka said.

Brandon Rees, AFL-CIO’s acting director of the office of investment, said CEOs of the Fix the Debt campaign want to overhaul the tax system so corporate profits moved overseas are permanently exempt from U.S. taxes.

“Jeff Immelt [CEO] at General Electric, his company has the most to gain from such a change,” Rees said.

The company had more than $180 billion in accumulated offshore profits as of 2012, the PayWatch site shows.

AFL-CIO estimates that the U.S. treasury would bring in $455 billion if it was able to tax the profits stashed overseas by 60 of the country's largest companies.

Another CEO group, the Business Roundtable, has called for increasing the retirement age for collecting Social Security and Medicare to 70, along with changing the way inflation is calculated.

Trumka pointed out that David Cote, CEO of Honeywell International Inc., who sits on the Business Roundtable’s executive committee, doesn’t need to worry about retirement, as he stands to collect $134.5 million in pension and other retirement benefits. By contract, Cote is allowed to collect that money before he’s 70, Trumka added.

The webpage offers ways people can "join the movement and help make our economy work for everybody."

“The American public deserves to know the truth about their self-serving agenda,” Trumka said.


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