The Gap Between Executive and Hourly Pay

Last July, during the Joliet strike, Oberhelman stopped by the company’s Aurora (Ill.) plant. One production worker there, who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, says he was invited to a rare group meeting with the CEO. Afterward, he says, he approached Oberhelman and asked him when the hourly employees would get pay increases.

Oberhelman responded, the worker says, by using his own multimillion-dollar salary as an example of how competitive wages work, pointing out that he made less than the CEOs of Deere and Komatsu, both smaller companies than Caterpillar. The employee—a single father who says he hasn’t received an hourly raise in more than 10 years—was stunned. Caterpillar declined to comment on the incident.

from the article “Caterpillar’s Doug Oberhelman: Manufacturing’s Mouthpiece” by Bloomberg Businessweek

Yes, you are going to have to pay to get the best executives. That’s basic economics. However the best executives don’t argue they are underpaid to their hourly workers on the assembly line while they bring home $22 million a year. The best executives aren’t this tone deaf.

What’s the real cost to the company and to the country if this CEO made 10% or 20% less a year if the hourly workers could make a living wage? Quoting from the Bloomberg Businessweek article, “when is it appropriate to share the wealth?”

Published by Steve Banfield

Kentucky born, Seattle based. Entrepreneur. Team Builder. Photographer.

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1 Comment

  1. And it’s precisely this kind of tone deafness that leads to the sort of aggrieved commentary coming from Wall Street these days that makes most of the rest of the country furious with the financial services industry.


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