CEOs Paid 331 Times Average Worker, 774 Times Minimum Wage Worker

Executive Pay Watch

Executive Pay Watch

2014 Executive PayWatch exposes high paid CEOs in the low wage economy

www.PayWatch.org

While Congress has left for recess failing to fully address economic issues from the minimum wage to unemployment insurance and equal pay, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka unveiled the 2014 Executive PayWatch today. According to its data, U.S. CEOs – the highest paid in the world – pocketed, on average, $11.7 million in 2013 compared to the average worker who earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker.

Many of the CEOs highlighted in PayWatch head companies, like Walmart, that are notorious for paying low wages. In 2013, CEOs made 774 times more than those who work for minimum wage. And while many of these companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.

This year, PayWatch highlights five low wage companies through worker testimonials at Walmart, Kellogg’s, Reynolds, Darden Restaurants and T-Mobile.

“These companies are run by short-sighted business leaders, because people who earn minimum wage, for instance, can’t afford cell phones from T-Mobile or dinner at Red Lobster or the Olive Garden, both of which are owned by Darden Restaurants,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “America’s CEOs—as exemplified by the individuals of these companies—are cannibalizing their own consumer base. It’s wrong. It’s unfair, and it’s bad economics.”

PayWatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies. It offers visitors to the website the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives.

“CEO Executive PayWatch calls attention to the insane level of compensation for CEOs, while the workers who create those corporate profits struggle for enough money to take care of the basics,” said Trumka. “This database is relevant to every community in the country. And we’ll use this data to organize and mobilize to lift millions of workers out of poverty and to strengthen the middle class.”

Expanded Gambling Is About Creating Jobs (Testimony by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO Logo

NH AFL-CIO LogoAs president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to workers and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

This Committee and the entire New Hampshire House now have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, legislators have been presented with a bill, SB 366, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

SB 366 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state and our municipalities, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach SB 366 takes.

SB 366 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of this committee personally don’t approve of gambling, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downside of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without SB 366, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

SB 366 was amended in the Senate to include provisions drafted by the bipartisan, multi-agency Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with previous gaming proposals, concerns we shared in many cases. We believe that SB 366 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse gaming legislation this year because we are convinced the current proposal represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. SB 366 is legislation that would accomplish these goals, and I urge the committee to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark MacKenzie
President of the NH AFL-CIO

Transportation Trade Unions Call For A Rejection Of Norwegian Air’s Air Carrier Permit

Transportation Trade Unions Call on U.S. DOT to Reject Norwegian Air International’s Application for Foreign Air Carrier Permit

Letter is broadest call yet to rebuff NAI’s style of business

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Image from Sirus1278
CC Flikr

Washington, DC – Twenty-two unions with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO weighed in on an ongoing and escalating debate about the future of international air travel today. The unions called on U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit now pending before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).  The union signatories represent teachers, electricians, construction workers, public sector workers, and a broad swath of the private and public sector transportation workforce.

“As the representatives of unions that represent workers in several sectors of our economy we have seen first-hand the effects of un-checked globalization on the American workforce,” says the letter.  “We cannot allow a similar fate to befall the U.S. aviation industry and lose a creator of middle-class jobs and a pillar of our inter-connected transportation system.”

The letter notes that TTD and its aviation unions have argued extensively that NAI’s application is contrary to the United States’ international obligations and laws, and would allow NAI to gain an unfair advantage over U.S. carriers and their employees.

The letter continues:

We add our voice to this debate for several reasons.  We believe that if the U.S. DOT approves this flag of convenience scheme, it will set a precedent for other foreign air carriers to exploit and follow.  NAI is promoting a business model that has become all too familiar to the U.S. labor movement: undercut the competition by scouring the globe for cheap labor, diminished collective bargaining rights and weak regulations.  The airline has registered in Ireland, even though it will not service Irish airports, and has chosen this path to avoid Norway’s labor and tax laws.  It will contract – or more accurately “rent” – much of its flight crew from Thailand using a recruitment firm based in Singapore.  In doing so, NAI will be able to undercut U.S. airlines and their employees by as much as 50 percent.

Read the full letter below or view the signed PDF version here

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue. S.E.
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

On behalf of the undersigned affiliated unions of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) we urge you to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit that is now pending before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). TTD and its aviation unions have already submitted extensive arguments on why NAI’s application is contrary to our nation’s international obligations, inconsistent with U.S. law, and would allow NAI to gain an unfair advantage over U.S. carriers and their employees.

We add our voice to this debate for several reasons. We believe that if the U.S. DOT approves this flag of convenience scheme, it will set a precedent for other foreign air carriers to exploit and follow. NAI is promoting a business model that has become all too familiar to the U.S. labor movement: undercut the competition by scouring the globe for cheap labor, diminished collective bargaining rights and weak regulations. The airline has registered in Ireland, even though it will not service Irish airports, and has chosen this path to avoid Norway’s labor and tax laws. It will contract – or more accurately “rent” – much of its flight crew from Thailand using a recruitment firm based in Singapore. In doing so, NAI will be able to undercut U.S. airlines and their employees by as much as 50 percent.

Finally, as TTD and its aviation affiliates have demonstrated, the NAI scheme would violate the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement which expressly bars this sort of business model through adoption of a labor article – embodied in Article 17 bis of the agreement – that embraces “high labor standards.” We urge you to uphold the spirit and intent of this important labor provision when implementing the Open Skies Agreement, and reject NAI’s application.

As the representatives of unions that represent workers in several sectors of our economy we have seen first-hand the effects of un-checked globalization on the American workforce. Too often, poorly conceived and badly enforced free trade agreements have led to the offshoring of U.S. jobs. That is why U.S. industries that previously formed the backbone of our economy have seen dramatic job losses that have coincided with the erosion of the middle class. We cannot allow a similar fate to befall the U.S. aviation industry and lose a creator of middle-class jobs and a pillar of our inter-connected transportation system.

We stand unified with U.S. and European airline unions in steadfastly opposing the NAI application. Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, SEIU (NCFO,SEIU)
International Organization of Masters,
Mates & Pilots, ILA (MM&P)
Transportation Communications Union/ IAM (TCU)
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (SUP)
UNITE HERE!
American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB)
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS)
Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)
Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
SMART – Transportation Division
Communications Workers of America (CWA)

AFL-CIO Report “NAFTA at 20” Sums Up Trade Deals’ Impact

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The AFL-CIO today issued a report, NAFTA at 20, which summarizes the unfortunate experiences of workers in Mexico, Canada and the United States in the twenty years following passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With the NAFTA model proving to be the template for additional trade deals in the past two decades and the Obama administration negotiating two massive trade deals, this report is particularly timely.

The AFL-CIO’s NAFTA at 20 can be found here: www.aflcio.org/NAFTAat20

This report demonstrates that the high hopes of NAFTA proponents have not been realized. Instead, the report argues that, “On the whole, NAFTA-style agreements have proved to be primarily a vehicle to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers, consumers, farmers, communities, the environment and even democracy itself.”

“There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The NAFTA model focuses on lifting corporations out of reach of democratic governance, rather than solely reducing tariffs.  This report should serve as a cautionary tale to the Obama Administration and Congress as they consider negotiating and implementing new trade deals.”

The report concludes that “the TPP and other forthcoming trade agreements do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past 20 years.”  The choice isn’t between the outdated NAFTA model and no new trade.  It’s between the corporate-rights model and trade that drives shared prosperity and inclusive growth for people and the planet.

The AFL-CIO has available a wide array of experts to elaborate on NAFTA at 20 as well as to discuss negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) , Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

AFL-CIO Leads Efforts To Raise The Minimum Wage Around the Country

AFL-CIO_Headquarters_by_Matthew_Bisanz2
AFL-CIO Headquarters by Matthew Bisanz

AFL-CIO Headquarters by Matthew Bisanz

(Washington, DC – March 18, 2014) In addition to the growing effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, working families across the country have been leading movements to raise wages at the state and local level.

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009 and wages for tipped workers have been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991.  Against that backdrop, workers, often led by local labor movements, are moving their own efforts to increase the minimum wage in several states, even where the state minimum wage is higher than the national. Coalitions across the country are working to raise wages in a variety of forms, some examples of local movements to raise wages are listed below:

Alaska: Over 43,000 signatures were collected in support of a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $9.75 over two years, with an annual adjustment for inflation. Alaskans will vote on the initiative in August.

Arkansas: A coalition including labor and community group are campaigning for a ballot measure that would eventually raise the minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 in steps over the next three years.

Connecticut: Labor groups applauded Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Student and community groups have testified in support of the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.  The bill would include tipped workers.

Iowa: Sen. Tom Harkin is the author of the federal legislation, and workers in his home state are also pushing for a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Community members have adopted the cry, “We can’t survive on $7.25!”

Idaho: Labor and community groups have joined together to spearhead a push to raise the minimum wage through the legislature in Idaho. The state has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country.

Los Angeles: The Raise L.A. campaign is focusing on raising the wages of hotel workers to $15 an hour. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has invited Pope Francis to come to L.A. to help champion economic equality for low wage workers.

Massachusetts:Last year, workers and community members joined together as the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition to collect 275,000 signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the 2014 ballot. This spring, they are organizing community meetings and lobby days to ask legislators to pass a minimum wage increase in addition to earned sick time.

Minnesota: An active coalition of faith, labor, and community organizations is working to pass a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015 with future increases indexed to inflation. In February, Working America held their Minimum Wage Challenge Week, in which five lawmakers struggled to live on minimum wage for a week.

Missouri: A bill to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour is currently active in the state senate. Low wage and tipped workers organized to turn out and testify at a critical hearing, helping the bill pass out of committee.

New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, the local labor movement has named raising the minimum wage one of their top priorities for 2014.  They are actively working with community allies to push a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

Pennsylvania: A coalition of labor unions, clergy, community and women’s organizations gathered at the state capitol just this week to launch the campaign to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Bills are currently pending in the state legislature. The coalition plans an aggressive grassroots mobilization to make minimum wage a center issue in the fall elections.

Seattle: Workers and community members in Seattle are aiming to replicate the success of neighboring SeaTac with an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the city.  Washington State has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour.  Hundreds have turned out to rallies and city council meetings to show their support for the measure.

South Dakota: The South Dakota AFL-CIO along with working families succeeded in getting a minimum wage increase on the ballot that will be voted on in November.  The measure would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and increase annually based on cost of living – it would also include an increase for tipped workers.

West Virginia– The West Virginia AFL-CIO led a successful campaign to increase the state minimum wage.  The bill has been passed by the legislature and sent to the Governor and would increase the state minimum wage to $8.00 to $8.75.  The bill will also include an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers.

TTD Urges Administration to Deliver Strong Message to EC: Keep Aviation and Maritime Out of TTIP

Transportation Trade Department Logo

Transportation Trade Department Logo

WASHINGTON, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues the following statement in response to news accounts of leaked European Commission (EC) proposals to include aviation and maritime services in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal currently under negotiation:

“Recent press reports of ‘leaked’ documents confirm what we’ve known for some time: the European Commission (EC) continues to advance a trade agenda that would undermine U.S. airline and maritime jobs and our national and economic security. The Europeans have been pushing a reform agenda through attempts—in defiance of longstanding U.S. trade policy—to include aviation and maritime in U.S.-EU talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Specifically, the EC seeks to weaken or eliminate our laws limiting foreign ownership and control of U.S. air carriers and to hollow out Jones Act protections at the expense of U.S. Merchant Marine jobs.

“Air and maritime services have historically been excluded from broad free trade agreements and for good reason: both sectors serve strategic economic and national security purposes for the nation. While America’s long-term economic interests are intrinsically linked to a robust U.S. aviation and maritime sector, the EC would have us hand over the keys to these vital industries. The Obama Administration must reject these efforts.

“Fortunately, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last July removed maritime from TTIP talks by declaring that ‘The Administration has continuously ensured that application of the Jones Act is permitted under each of our trade agreements’ and that it ‘will continue to take this position.’ We urge the Administration to reaffirm those views and to declare that aviation will not be a subject of TTIP negotiations. Instead, aviation trade negotiations should continue to be handled through bilateral negotiations under the auspices of the Department of State and Department of Transportation.

“These leaked documents demonstrate the EC’s resolve to pursue reforms in U.S. transportation policy that have been roundly rejected by the President and by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In fact, 158 members of the House have already written Ambassador Froman in opposition to including aviation in TTIP talks.

“Aviation and maritime have no place at the TTIP negotiating table. We urge the Obama Administration to deliver this message unambiguously to its European counterparts.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on President Obama’s 2015 Budget Proposal

Richard_Trumka

“I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: Making sure our economy works for every working American.” – President Barack Obama, State of the Union, January 28, 2014

Yes it is. Through a budget with fairer taxes and a commitment to making real investments in America, the President is beginning to put muscle behind those words.

Our nation needs Washington to engage in a broader conversation about full employment and raising wages. And President Obama’s proposals to invest in jobs, raise the minimum wage, expand the EITC, close tax loopholes for the wealthy and provide access to universal pre-kindergarten are good starting points to seriously address inequality.

However, we cannot afford cuts to Medicare beneficiaries or elimination of a separate program for workers who lose their jobs due to trade. Furthermore, to best address income inequality we must ensure that all workers – union or not – have the power to collectively bargain with their employers to get their fair share of the wealth they help create.

Ultimately,this is a turning point away from harmful austerity policy towards a future of shared prosperity. And it’s a future working people will fight for. We applaud the president.

AFL-CIO President Is “Disappointed By The Lack Of Progress” In TPP Negotiations

StopTPP

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministerial Meeting in Singapore

Richard_TrumkaWe are troubled by today’s announcement that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment talks are nearing completion, as working families have raised many concerns about this trade deal.

As the Administration moves quickly to finalize the still-secret text of the TPP agreement, we are deeply concerned that in key areas this agreement is on track to mirror problematic or inadequate provisions in previous trade deals.

First, it appears that mandatory, enforceable disciplines on currency manipulation will not be included. In fact, the Administration has indicated it is not seeking these provisions, despite strong bipartisan support from Congress.

Second, we have proposed that the Obama Administration use the TPP negotiations to strengthen, streamline, and clarify the labor and environmental provisions negotiated by Congress and the Bush Administration (the so-called “May 10” language). We have seen little indication from published reports and leaked text that this is a likely outcome. In fact, given the difficulty of completing these negotiations, there is a significant risk that both the labor and environmental provisions, as well as their enforcement mechanisms, could be weakened in the final language. We urge our government to press for strengthening these provisions, and under no circumstances to weaken or dilute them.

We are disappointed by the lack of progress in including strong language disciplining State-Owned Enterprises, creating strong rules of origin and protecting Buy American programs.

The Administration is simultaneously pushing for “Fast Track” trade authority as these negotiations near conclusion. Given how far along the TPP negotiations are, “Fast Track” seems increasingly irrelevant, certainly in giving the Administration “marching orders” or negotiating guidelines.

America’s workers don’t oppose trade—but we are entitled to know that the rules of the TPP aren’t rigged against workers, communities, family farms, and small businesses. Unfortunately, as the TPP marches toward conclusion with minimal public scrutiny, it looks less and less likely that it’s going to be a fair deal for workers.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On the Gap Increasing Wages and the Question of Walmart

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Gap’s announcement that it will raise its own minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in 2014 and $10 an hour next year represents a major victory by working people in their growing campaign to raise wages and working standards. While Gap has more work to do both in the United States and with its supply chain in countries like Bangladesh, this wage increase is a turning point.

The Gap’s decision exposes the greatest economic fraud of our time: that large employers cannot pay their employees fair wages.  With one decision, the Gap has stripped the oligarch of his clothes and changed the economic debate in America.

So now Wal-Mart is exposed.  The landscape is clear.  What will the largest employer in our country, owned by the world’s richest family, do?

Walmart workers have been protesting and striking, demanding justice.  What is Walmart’s answer?

As a first small step, Walmart workers, like all workers need a federal minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour.  But Walmart can do better than that.  It must agree to its workers demands to stop using low wages and abusive scheduling practices to condemn its workers to poverty – and agree to the $25,000 a year minimum.

Then we can start to get to work.  Everything that should constitute a normal working life – from a national living wage to paid sick days, among  many other improvements – should move forward swiftly and with genuine purpose under the  combined leadership of Wal-Mart, all of corporate America, and the labor movement.

The AFL-CIO, and all American workers, are ready to meet the challenge of falling wages and rising inequality that has been growing painfully for decades.  The Gap has issued an invitation to Wal-Mart, and offered America a new path forward.  Will Wal-Mart respond and join the tens of millions who deserve a better future?

New Poll: Strong Support for Raising Wages in 2014 Battleground States

Image from M.Scott Mahaskey:POLITICO

Gains for Candidates Who Support Critical Issue

View the Poll http://bit.ly/McBmJn

“Politicians who ignore the surging interest in raising wages do so at their own peril”

(Houston, TX) – Voters in five diverse, politically crucial states have made their priorities emphatically clear: they want political leaders, especially at the gubernatorial level, to focus squarely on wages, living standards and fair treatment.

A new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates found that nearly 60 percent of voters in the 2014 battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are dissatisfied with their state’s economy. A full 91 percent of respondents say that they are falling behind economically or just keeping even. By an overwhelming 72-23 margin, voters are asserting that raising wages is “good for the state” and soundly reject the notion that it would hurt the state by increasing prices or costing jobs. Ultimately, the poll concludes that candidates have a lot to gain by making wages a central element in their economic agenda and campaign messages.

“Voters are way ahead of politicians on the issue of raising wages,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “From the minimum wage to paid sick leave to wage theft, voters across America are elevating basic paycheck issues to a new national prominence. Politicians who ignore the surging interest in raising wages do so at their own peril.”

The AFL-CIO Executive Council, currently meeting in Houston, has made the issue of raising wages a centerpiece of their work. The Council will be integrating raising wages into all aspects: from politics to immigration and organizing. This new poll reinforces the fact that the American public shares in these goals.

“America’s attention is more focused on workers, wages and fairness than ever in my lifetime,” Trumka said. “Behind this energy and commitment, the possibilities are enormous for working people.”

View the new poll results at http://bit.ly/McBmJn 

From February 8 to 11, 2014, Hart Research Associates conducted a survey of 1,012 registered voters in five gubernatorial battleground states: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The survey explored voters’ economic concerns, and how those might impact their voting preferences this year. Approximately 200 interviews were conducted by telephone (landline and cell) in each state, with the overall sample weighted to reflect the actual voter population by state. The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points for the overall survey, and higher for subgroups. This memo reviews the survey’s key findings.