by Richard Trumka
(NAPSI)—CEOs at S&P Fortune 500 companies averaged $11.4 million in pay last year, a 23 percent raise from the previous year. How many people do you know who got a raise last year?
As Americans, one of our most strongly held beliefs is that people should be able to succeed if they work hard enough. That’s why we throw ourselves into our jobs and want our kids to be better off than we are. We don’t begrudge the wealthy for having “made it” because that’s what we all aspire to.
Here’s where the train runs off the track: When the people who are doing the day-to-day work to keep the economy moving are still worried about losing their jobs, why do the people at the top make such massive profits?
Once the unbreakable backbone of this country, the middle class is severely damaged. America is on track to be a polarized society of the superrich and the working poor.
The AFL-CIO recently released Executive PayWatch, an online data bank that shows just how skewed things are. According to the data, the 299 corporate CEOs at the very top received a combined $3.4 billion last year, enough compensation to support over 100,000 jobs at median wages. Three decades ago in a humming economy, CEOs were receiving about 42 times the pay of a worker. Today, that ratio has exploded to 343 times.
There is, however, hope that things can change. The passage of President Obama’s Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act can help ensure that middleclass Americans are no longer required to pay so much for corporate CEOs. In response, Wall Street, which wants to keep its place in the driver’s seat, is fighting to weaken these historic reforms.
What You Can Do
So it’s up to all of us to say “Enough.” We need to bring back the balance to our economy that we so desperately need. As middle- class workers, we need to ensure our values are the ones we pass on to our children, not those of Wall Street CEOs.
For more information, visit www.paywatch.org.
Mr. Trumka is president of the 12 million?member AFL-CIO, which represents firefighters, teachers, nurses, electricians, scientists and communications workers.
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