Publication Type: Publication
CEO Pay Report 2022
A thriving community depends on the work of everyone, from the retail clerk who greets customers to the janitor who cleans the countertop. But for decades, corporate executives held down pay for the typical Ohio worker, while they lavished themselves with enormous raises. The pandemic has magnified the growing disparity. CEOs in 2020 took home windfall gains from stock price growth during COVID while frontline workers risked their lives for often menial pay. Now, as we have made strides to overcome the most severe health risks of COVID-19, CEOs continue to raise their pay by using their unique power over corporate boards, stock buybacks and new consumer price gouging. The result is an ever-widening gulf between themselves and the shop floor workers. At a time when ordinary workers’ bargaining power has been significantly eroded by corporate attacks on unions, CEOs’ pay reflects their privileged status to influence the board that sets their pay, and it further separates the fortunes of the wealthiest from the rest of us.
State of Working North Carolina
Nearly three years have passed since the first cases of COVID-19 were
detected in the United States. After a series of shutdowns halting
much of normal life, the largest federal stimulus package in U.S. history,
and a mass vaccination campaign, policymakers and pundits were
quick to agree that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Despite
this messaging, U.S. COVID-19 cases were higher in the early-2022
Omicron wave than at any other point during the pandemic.1
narrative shifted to living with endemic COVID and going back to work,2,3,4
temporary safeguards for workers throughout the pandemic, such as
increased unemployment benefits, were removed.
While a roller-coaster labor market has at times favored workers during
the pandemic, the lows were low, and the highs were offset by inflation5
paired with the removal of federal economic supports that had kept
people afloat early in the pandemic. Despite this, policies that will make
the labor market even worse for working people are on the horizon.6
care economy has become untenable for patients, their loved ones, and
care workers alike. A lack of safeguards for workers amid the pandemic
has created dangerous workplaces and led to unsustainable attrition,
and the care burden placed on families is keeping people — particularly
women and especially women of color — out of work.
All of these choices — sending vulnerable workers back in the midst
of a pandemic; letting an under-regulated and underfunded care
industry erode; and removing economic safeguards that kept low-wage
workers from financial peril — have created an environment for working
people that further entrenches structural inequities. Although the
pandemic brought to light the roots of an economy that relies on worker
vulnerability and exploitation, moving beyond a return to “business as
usual” will require a continued examination of how poor people, Black
and Brown people, women, and people at the intersection of these
identities are a central part of America’s essential workforce yet still
disproportionately bear the brunt of exploitative and inhumane work
Making progress will require that working people demand that their
employers value, respect, and protect them. Many people have been
able to pursue additional education and training needed to move to
more stable and less dangerous careers. Federal supports and extended
unemployment benefits, although short-lived, have given us a glimpse
of a system that can support people during hard times. And faced with a
callous disregard for their safety and health, working North Carolinians
and others around the country have stood together and walked out, gone
on strike, formed unions, and otherwise demanded that employers do
better for working people.
Workers have given policymakers a blueprint for how to support them
— by maintaining a safety net that allows marginalized workers to take
care of their basic needs; by reducing the caregiving burden of working
people; by providing well-paid, dignified jobs for people working as
caregivers; and by helping workers build power in their workplaces and in
our democracy to protect themselves, their coworkers, and their families.
If we follow this blueprint, we can build a more just North Carolina.
Arkansas Should Help Protect Workers’ Wages
Every Arkansan deserves to be paid by their employer for the work they’ve done. Sounds pretty obvious, right? It is. But in Arkansas, we make it too easy for employers to steal wages from their employees by not requiring simple statements of what’s owed, like pay stubs, for example.