AFL-CIO: CEOs pulling in 373 times to average worker paycheck

AFL-CIO: CEOs pulling in 373 times to average worker paycheck
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Corporate executive paychecks got bigger in 2014, climbing roughly 16 percent and significantly outpacing what the average worker takes home in income.

In a new report released Wednesday, the AFL-CIO found that top executives made 373 times what the average worker made in 2014, as the labor union continued to hammer on top corporate pay while pushing wage boosts for workers.

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The labor union pointed the finger squarely at executive offices for the growing income and economic inequality in the U.S., which has emerged as a major political theme both on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail.

“America faces an income inequality crisis because corporate CEOs have taken the raising wages agenda and applied it only to themselves,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations spend freely on executive perks and powerful lobbyists to strip rights from workers, but when it comes to lifting up the wages of workers that make their companies run, they’re nowhere to be found.”

The AFL-CIO study found that the average nonmanagement worker brought home $36,000 a year, while the average pay for an S&P 500 company CEO was $13.5 million.

Labor unions and many Democrats have publicly pressed for an increase to the minimum wage, and called on large companies to take initiative and boost pay for low-level workers as well.

The massive retail chain Walmart agreed in February to pay workers at least $9 an hour, a voluntary boost over the $7.25 federal minimum wage. But the AFL-CIO determined that nonetheless, Walmart was still the company with the broadest disparty between top executive pay and entry-level workers.

The union determined that Walmart CEO Douglas McMillon earns $9,323 an hour. In other words, a new Walmart employee receiving $9 an hour would have to work 1036 hours to earn the same amount that McMillon makes in one.

In a response, Walmart pointed out that most of McMillon's pay in 2014 came in the form of a $14.5 million stock grant, which will only be paid out over the course of three years if the company meets certain performance goals. According to the company, most compensation for Walmart's top executives is tied to certain performance goals. A company spokesman also highlighted the fact that McMillon started out at the company as an hourly employee at a distribution center 30 years ago.

Democrats are pushing legislation to establish a $12 minimum wage, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Washington Tuesday to push a progressive prescription of $15 an hour. Meanwhile, left-leaning groups are keeping pressure on regulators to establish tough new rules on how executive pay is made public, after the Dodd-Frank financial reform law ordered several new steps.

In April, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules that would require companies to connect what top executives take home in pay with the overall performance of the company. The regulator is also attempting to craft rules that would require companies to disclose the ratio between top executive pay and a company’s median worker, although that effort has stalled over the last several years.

This post updated at 1:48pm.