Big Labor Millionaires Lecture on Inequality

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers / AP
September 22, 2014

Millionaire union honchos are speaking out about income inequality even as they collect six-figure salaries that dwarf those of the average CEO, according to

Top labor leaders, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and AFSCME leader Lee Saunders, lamented income disparity at the Ohio AFL-CIO’s state convention. Each union bigwig takes home more than $250,000 per year in salary and perks.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten portrayed herself and other AFL-CIO leaders as the voices of the working class, although AFT paid her $2,022,274 taken from union members and forced "fair share" fee payers between 2010 and 2013. [...]

Forced AFSCME dues continue their movement from Ohio taxpayers to government workers to Lee Saunders’ bank account. Saunders was paid $350,058 in 2013. [...]

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who was paid $298,542 during the union coalition’s 2013 fiscal year, called for more wealth redistribution from job creators. [...]

Union salary levels dwarf those of private sector businessmen. The average CEO earns less than $180,000 per year in salary, according to federal labor statistics. Economist Mark Perry has pointed out that the divisive rhetoric of inequality warriors may help them earn big checks from their members’ money, but it will not do much to create jobs and dynamic companies.

Discussions about "excessive CEO pay" are distorted by looking at only an outlier group of the 200 CEOs of America’s largest companies, out of 248,760 chief executives nationwide. Of course, many young, risk-taking CEOs are running early stage startups and tech companies, and probably make even less than the average CEO as reported by the BLS, as Scott Drum points out to me in an email. Further, he comments that "They’re usually not in it for the salary. They’re in it for the payoff if things go well. If we reduce the size of the Big Payoff, don’t we affect the number of people trying to get there?" The fact that there are almost 250,000 ambitious CEOs making less than $200,000 today on average who are trying to someday be listed by USAToday as one of the top 200 highest-paid CEOs in the US is a sign of a dynamic, wealth-generating economy.

Published under: Income Inequality , Unions