By Evan Henerson

Everyone knows fat cat CEOs of S&P 500 companies earn a boatload of money while their low level workers take home … well not so much. 

But nothing highlights the disparity quite like the AFL-CIO’s annual Executive Paywatch. The 2017 edition, launched yesterday at, shows that the average S&P 500 CEO made $13.1 million per year in 2016 while the average production and non-supervisory worker earned about $37,600. So the boss, on average, earns 347 times his lowest employee’s salary. 

“Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a press statement.  “It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”  

For this year’s report, the AFL-CIO called out Mondelez International which earned a black eye in 2016 by closing the Oreo cookie line at its Chicago Nabisco factory, eliminating 600 jobs to outsource the work to Mexico. 

Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 ($8,000 an hour), according to PayWatch), 444 times the salary of her average rank-and-file employee (the ones who still have jobs, that is). The news release quotes laid off worker Michael Smith who notes that the Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue “and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us make in a year,” Smith said. “I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”

Of course, Rosenfeld is not the highest paid CEO on the tracker, not by a long shot. That distinction belongs to Google’s Sundar Pichai whose 2015 compensation was $100.6 million, the majority of it calculated by the value of his stock. Then you drop down to Charter Communications’ Thomas M. Rutledge ($98 million in 2016) and on it goes. 

The Paywatch site also allows visitors to see which companies are not paying taxes on their offshore profits.

Browse around, but be prepared to be outraged.


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