Forget $15 Minimum Wage; CEOs Lobby for $40 Million Minimum Salary

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Tough times

Chief executive officers at companies in the United States are uniting behind a push to guarantee no CEO has to work for less than $40 million a year.

“This is an issue of basic fairness,” says John Carter, CEO of iQuantumData in Raleigh, N.C. “The idea that a CEO can live in this country on anything under $40 million a year is unsupportable. No one can maintain three or four houses, keep a boat, and travel to Europe for events like Wimbledon or to play golf at St. Andrews on anything less than $40 million.”

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Hanson: ‘CEOs are hurting’

Mike Anderson, CEO of Delta Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, says the CEO profession is riven by inequality. “You have CEOs who earn $200 million a year or $300 million a year, and then you have CEOs who earn $15 million a year,” he says. “How is a guy earning $15 million a year going to engage as an equal with a guy earning $200 million a year? It can’t happen, and action needs to be taken.”

To press their case, CEOs earlier this year launched a coalition, End the Pay Gap, and hired a lobbying team to educate lawmakers on the issue.

“Congress just hast not been focused on CEO pay inequality,” says Peter Hanson, a long-time Washington lobbyist who has assembled a team to advocate on the issue. “What we’re trying to impress upon lawmakers is that corporate America isn’t just worried about taxes and regulations; it’s worried about executive-suite pay. And the pay gap is only going to widen in the years ahead.”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0166BOEHG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0166BOEHG&linkCode=as2&tag=daily031-20&linkId=WG2GUYSDAXGFIEH5The coalition has commissioned a study to assess how much productivity is lost by income inequality at the top. “What we think we’ll find is that U.S. corporations simply can’t compete if a CEO is only making $15 million,” says Hanson. “How can a CEO think strategically about lowering his company’s taxes or moving his manufacturing overseas if he’s preoccupied with his income? We need to take the pay issue off the table so this country’s CEOs can focus on what’s important: paring back research and development, identifying tax havens abroad, and reducing employee benefits that hurt dividend income of stockholders.”

The coalition is drafting legislative language that will require U.S. corporations to pay CEOs a minimum $40 million annually or face tough penalties. “We now have a structure in place that will get this issue on the front burner,” says Anderson. “It’s our hope that, a year from now, America will look back and say, ‘How could we have allowed such a pay gap for so long?”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UUS8PH2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00UUS8PH2&linkCode=as2&tag=daily031-20&linkId=XZX23RCJZCOCYV47Not everyone in Washington, though, thinks legislation is a good idea. “A $40-million minimum salary will drive businesses overseas,” says Shelly Williams, an analyst with Lehman Bros. “Why would a board raise their CEOs salary 20 percent, 30 percent, when they can shift operations to Mexico or India and pay the CEO $250,000? This is a business killer, pure and simple.”

Nor can CEOs expect employee unions to take up their cause. “Just as we’re making progress on raising the minimum wage, the CEOs come along and say, ‘Hey, look at us! We need a raise, too!'” says Peter Turner, vice president of government affairs at the Convenience Store Workers of North America, a member of the AFL-CIO. “It’s one thing for lawmakers around the country to say, ‘Okay, let’s raise the minimum wage.’ It’s another for them to say, ‘Let’s raise the minimum wage and increase CEO pay at the same time.’ That’s a non-starter. The risk is, they’ll end up doing nothing.”

But Hanson thinks the timing is right. “One year from now, lawmakers in Congress will be asking how we could have neglected this issue for so long,” he says. “This is the start of a movement.”

This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: fco, pd (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.

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