That’s the figure that United Auto Workers President Shawn Fenn repeatedly cited during the union’s historic strike against the Big Three U.S. carmakers as he drew attention to the excessive compensation of the companies’ top executives.
Over the past four years, the total compensation of the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis has increased by 40%, while the salary of ordinary employees of the companies has increased by only 6%. The Economic Policy Institute found earlier this week that autoworker wages across the U.S. have declined 19.3% since 2008.
Last year, the CEOs of the Big Three automakers received surprise pay packages, fueling ongoing pressure among workers for better wages and benefits. Ford’s Jim Farley made about $21 million, Stellantis’ Carlos Tavares made about $25 million, and General Motors’ Mary Barra – the highest-paid in the group – brought in about $29 million.
Barra has received compensation of more than $200 million since becoming CEO of GM in 2014.
“We’ve gone backwards over the last 16 years — backwards — while the CEO has given himself a 40% pay raise in the last four years alone,” Fain said from a protest site in Michigan early Friday. “And they want to call us greedy.”
“UAW members view the disparity in CEO pay as a measure of how undervalued they are.”
The gap between the pay of CEOs and employees at large, profitable automakers is striking.
As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy nonprofit that tracks the CEO-to-employee pay gap at U.S. companies, noted Friday that Ford’s chief executive earned 281 times more than the company’s average employee last year.
The gap was even bigger at General Motors, where Barra was paid 362 times more than the automaker’s average employee in 2022.
one in cnn In the interview Friday, Barra insisted it was fair that General Motors is only offering its workers a 20% pay increase during a four-year contract, given that it has received 34% compensation increases over the past four years.
Rosanna Landis Weaver, director of pay justice and executive compensation at As You Sow, said in a statement Friday that “as a result of executive compensation spiraling out of control, shareholders now face striking workers at a critical juncture as these companies change.” Have been.” For EV production.”
“UAW members view the disparity in CEO pay as a measure of how undervalued they are,” Weaver said. “Skyrocketing CEO pay is linked to employee dissatisfaction and low profits, making excessive pay a distinct material risk that shareholders should take seriously.”
Progressive lawmakers, who have expressed solidarity with the UAW’s fight for fair contracts, have also condemned runaway executive compensation and declining workers’ wages.
Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said, “The Big Three auto companies have already made $20 billion in profits this year. Their CEOs make millions. They are able to pay their workers a living wage.” wrote On social media on Friday. “I stand with the UAW as they begin their strike. We’ve got you!”
in a presence at msnbc On Thursday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that “over the last 20 years, when you take into account inflation, real wages for automobile workers have gone down 30%” as CEO pay has soared. .
Sanders said, “I really applaud the courage of Sean Fenn and the UAW workers to stand up and say: ‘You know what? Enough is enough.’” “Nobody thinks that the three guys at the top have There must be more wealth than the bottom half of American society. CEOs making 400 times more than their employees – this is not what this country is supposed to be about. That’s what the UAW is telling the American people, and I think they’re getting overwhelming support for what they’re trying to do.”
According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO compensation at the top publicly traded companies in the US increased by 1,460% between 1978 and 2021, while typical employee pay increased by only 18.1%.
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich argued in a blog post Thursday that a combination of “huge executive pay packages,” massive automaker profits, low pay for hourly workers, and a tiered pay system that disadvantages new workers. “The possibility has increased of a protracted strike.”
“CEO pay at the Big Three is out of sight,” Reich said. “Overall, CEO pay has increased 40% over the last four years. And that’s not counting all the other executive pay under the CEO, because CEO pay is skyrocketing.”