Media that empowers working people – that's how we build a More Perfect Union.

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Ideas

Have a story to tell or idea to share?
Email stories@perfectunion.us
© 2021 More Perfect Union Action

Together we can build power for working people.

We’re asking questions that really matter, and telling the stories of people who really need to be seen and heard.

You can support our work by donating today.

Amount

Make It Monthly

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Inflation Is Making CEOs Richer

While working people are getting hammered by inflation, one group of Americans is getting richer.

YouTube Thumbnail

By Sarah Anderson, video edited by Josh Hirschfeld-Kroen

Working families are hammered by inflation and corporate leaders and politicians call for belt-tightening

[Jerome Powell, news clip]: And of course, everyone loves to see wages go up and it’s a great thing. But you want them to go up at a sustainable level.

But there’s one group of Americans that has actually profited from increasing prices…

[News clip]: So your wages are not keeping up with inflation. Happily, however, CEOs have things much better, which is how we all want it of course.

CEOs have enjoyed soaring pay even as their employees have been struggling to keep their families safe and their bills paid.

Look at Target, for example.  Last year, the median Target worker salary did not even keep pace with inflation, rising less than 4% to just $25,500. 

Did the giant retailer lack the money to make sure wages kept up with rising prices? No, just the opposite. In 2021, Target spent $7.2 billion of their extra cash on stock buybacks. That would’ve been enough to give every one of their 450,000 employees a $16,000 raise.

When a company repurchases their own shares, it does nothing for workers but makes rich CEOs even richer by artificially inflating the value of their stock-based pay. 

Last year, Target CEO Brian Cornell made $19.8 million, which is 775 times more than the median pay for his employees. 

How do CEOs get away with making hundreds of times more than their workers? Corporate pay practices are still based on the ridiculous notion that the “genius” in the corner office is almost single-handedly responsible for company value. 

This was always pure nonsense but during the pandemic it became even more clear that lower-level workers are essential to their companies and our whole economy. 

[Target worker Adam Ryan, MPU Interview]: Without us, this company would have no profits whatsoever. Cornell wouldn’t make, you know, 800, sometimes more than what we make as workers.

Target is just one example of Corporate America’s obscene disparities. At the Institute for Policy Studies, we looked at 300 low-wage employers and found that the average gap between CEO and worker pay rose to 670-to-1 in 2021. That was up from 604 to 1 the year before.

And among the companies where worker pay fell below inflation, about two-thirds spent huge sums on stock buybacks to further enrich their CEOs. With such extreme unfairness, it’s no wonder we’re seeing record numbers of workers quitting their jobs and a surge in unionization

One recent poll shows 87 percent of Americans view the growing gap between CEO and worker pay as a problem for the whole nation. 

What can we do about it? Workers can fight for equitable pay through collective bargaining. In other countries with higher unionization rates, CEO pay tends to be much lower than in the United States. 

But policymakers need to step up as well. 

On Capitol Hill, one pending bill would use tax incentives to encourage companies to narrow their divides. The wider the gap between a company’s CEO and worker pay, the higher their corporate tax rate. 

President Biden could also take action on his own without waiting on Congress. 

For instance, he could make it hard for companies with huge pay gaps to land lucrative federal contracts. That would have a big impact because federal contractors employ an estimated 25 percent of the private sector work force. 

Biden could also ban contractor CEOs from personally profiting from stock buybacks. And he could order contractors to be neutral in union organizing drives. That would help combat the union-busting we’ve seen at some major federal contractors, like Amazon. 

[Teamsters President O’Brien, testimony]: To put it plainly, it is wrong for our government to be giving taxpayer dollars in the form of federal contracts to companies like Amazon. There is no excuse to reward employers who repeatedly, knowingly, and purposefully violate federal labor laws.

These kinds of executive actions would build on Biden’s executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum of $15 per hour. 

By wielding the power of the public purse against excessive CEO pay, the president could strike another blow against extreme inequality. All workers, up and down the corporate ladder, deserve a fair share of the wealth they create. 

[Chris Smalls, testimony]: This is not a left or right thing. This is a working class issue. And the workers at the bottom are the ones who make these corporations go.

The Latest

YouTube Thumbnail
These Pizza Workers Want to Unionize The Whole Restaurant Industry
Read More
Sinema
Sinema More Than Doubled Private Equity Fundraising Before Killing Carried Interest Provision
Read More
Amazon heat
Photos Reveal Amazon Workers In Scorching 145° Trailers
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Strokes, Head Injuries & Heat Exhaustion: Why Amazon Workers In Albany Are Unionizing
Read More
Here Are The Next States That Want To Follow Kansas’ Lead In Winning Abortion Ballot Measures
Read More
United Airlines
Despite Record Revenue, Airlines Set to Slash Flights to Smaller Cities
Read More
Google
Major Corporations Have Donated Over $6 Million to Anti-Abortion Groups, Despite Promises to Defend Access
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
U.S. Rail Workers Could Strike And Shut Down The Economy
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Inflation Is Making CEOs Richer
Read More
Amazon insider
Here’s How Amazon Is Strangling Small Businesses 
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Abortion Is On The Ballot In Kansas
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Commercial Production Workers Are Unionizing
Read More
Medical Debt
A Measure to Crack Down on Predatory Medical Debt Collection is on the Verge of Making the Ballot in Arizona
Read More
Jennifer Rourke
Democratic Leaders Helped a Blackface-Wearing Conservative Run Against a Progressive Black Woman In Rhode Island
Read More
AT&T and Verizon Raised Prices in Lockstep, Looking To Make Billions
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Why GameStop Workers Hate Their Jobs
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Elon Musk Got Rich: The $230 Billion Myth
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Former Uber Driver Taking On the ‘Joe Manchin of New York’
Read More
Cholula
The Largest U.S. Spice Company Is Raising Prices in America – But Not China
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Why The Flight Cancellation Crisis Is About To Get Worse
Read More