Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Leading By Example On Income Inequality

The leadership of the labor movement has finally gotten on board with the notion that beating the drum on income inequality is striking a chord with the populist trend that has been growing with the general public in the last year or two.

This is a smart move, but there is a downside to this strategy for many unions: the income inequality that exists in their own organizations. For instance, here are a few of the leadership salaries of some of the most well known unions in the United States:

Richard Trumka(AFL-CIO) -$298,542
James Hoffa(Teamsters) - $ $381,409
Randi Weingarten(American Federation of Teachers) - $543,150
Lee Saunders (AFSCME) - $350,058
Donald Moak(Airline Pilots Association) - $627,796
Robert Buffenbarger(Machinists) - $319,667
Edwin Hill(IBEW) - $400,968
Terence O'Sullivan(LIUNA) - $663,981
*Special Recognition to LIUNA for having ten officers making over $300,000
Mary Kay Henry(SEIU) - $295,870

I'll be the first to point out that these salaries are not even in the same universe as the outlandish corporate CEO levels out there.  That's not the point I'm making here.  While I'm not opposed to union officials making a good living, could anyone imagine Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, or Joe Hill taking home over half a million dollars a year?

I don't think so.

The labor leaders of the past we regard as heroes were true believers in the cause. They were leftist, usually broke, often arrested, some were deported, and some were even killed for the cause.

With salaries so much higher than that of the average member of their respective unions, labor leaders run the risk of looking more like the Chamber of Commerce than Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill, and Mother Jones.

The leaders of the labor movement have an opportunity to lead by example by voluntarily capping their own pay, and investing that money in new organizing campaigns to grow the movement.  Think of the contrast to the excess and greed of corporate America this action would demonstrate to the American public.

In Solidarity,

Joseph Riedel

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