The American dream is one of upward mobility. We believe that if you
work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide for your
family and ensure that your children have greater opportunity than you
were afforded. But today, the dream of true upward mobility has been
limited to a select class of corporate executives while the dreams of
middle-class families have been deferred. Corporate CEOs have enjoyed
record levels of compensation and corporations have seen record
profits, as more and more middle-class Americans are experiencing
stagnant wages and vanishing benefits. This expanding inequality is not
the American dream.
CEO compensation is out of orbit: At the 350 largest public
companies, the average CEO compensation is $9.2 million. Compensation
for oil and gas execs increased by 109 percent between 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, the average CEO received 240 times more than the
compensation earned by the average worker. In 2002, the ratio was 145
These levels of CEO compensation are not the norm for the
industrialized world. Typically, CEO pay in other industrialized
countries is only about onethird of what American CEOs make.
Highly-compensated CEOs are not being rewarded for performance with the
interests of shareholders in mind, the "textbook" explanation of CEO
compensation, according to an extensive body of research and reporting.
After-tax profits are booming and corporate America can easily
afford to offer fair wages and benefits to rank and file employees.
Unfortunately, while CEOs have enriched themselves, middle-class
families have taken hard hits to their
paychecks, their health coverage, and their pension plans.
- 184 Labor