Last year, a newspaper article published the salary of my employer’s CEO— over $3M. That’s not $3M over the lifetime of his employment, nor is it a $3M windfall reward for record profits. It’s $3M a year, each and every year! (For the record, I will never see even $1M in my entire life, let alone in a single year.)
I couldn’t believe it. I felt as though I’d been smacked in the face, considering that my immediate supervisor had been imploring the staff to be more frugal with supplies, and the supervisors above her had authorized the replacement of good quality supplies with cheaper ones of inferior quality.
The trend continued. They removed our fast, modern copy machine and replaced it with a slow one that appeared to have been in a warehouse, unsold, for years. They restricted overtime, and made us take “comp time” instead of pay, when the workload required an extra hour or two. Meanwhile, the CEO resigned, and a new one came. Cost-of-living raises for the rank and file were delayed, then suspended, and we knew why.
Another CEO (there are more than one?) resigned from the same company with a $7M compensation package, and when hundreds of the staff complained bitterly, the administration published a ten-point bulletin in defense of CEO salary packages. Among other inane defenses was this: That’s what good-quality CEOs cost, and we want good CEOs, don’t we?
Eventually, most of us got our $.25 per hour raise, and one of us got a black mark on her record for spouting off to the wrong person about the disparity between CEO salaries and the salaries of the rest of us who actually do hands-on work. The organization I work for is huge, spanning several states, marching towards a monopoly on its product, thanks to our CEOs, presumably, but I no longer buy the austerity pitch I hear from supervisors and low-tier administrators.
In fact, I no longer buy it from anyone higher up on the food chain, certainly not from politicians who cry and moan about how the United States is going to run out of money in two days. Who are they trying to fool— each other, or the working class people who are already accustomed to the “necessity” of preserving CEO salaries?