The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 26, 2017

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman



Another jump for corporate CEO pay

CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker.

The Executive Paywatch website showed that in 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years.

“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations continually find ways to rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run. Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

Mondel─ôz International, highlighted in this year’s Paywatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. The company, which makes Nabisco products, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers, is leading the race to the bottom. Last year, it closed the Oreo cookie line at the iconic Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 family-sustaining jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondel─ôz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour.

“Greedy CEOs are continuing to get rich off the backs of working people,” said Michael Smith, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March of 2016. “I loved working at Nabisco, and I took pride in the work I did to make a quality product. It’s not as if the company isn’t profitable. The Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue, and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us made in a year. I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”

While companies are continuing to put profits over people, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.

The Paywatch site also highlights U.S. corporations that don’t pay taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes and reinvesting back into the community.


Green energy in DTE's future

DETROIT - DTE Energy envisions a world of power production without coal.

On May 16 the company announced "a broad sustainability initiative" that will reduce the company's carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050. The plan includes the steady retirement of all the company's aging coal-fired plants over the next few decades, which continued in 2016 with the announced shutdown of 11 coal units by the early 2020s.

"I want to be clear that this plan is more than a commitment to a long-term goal in 2050," said Gerry Anderson, DTE Chairman and CEO. "We have already begun fundamental transformation in the way we produce power, and we will press that transformation forward steadily in the years and decades ahead, sharply improving environmental outcomes in the process."

The announced plans define a long-term shift by DTE to produce over three-quarters of its power from renewable energy and highly efficient natural gas-fired power plants.

The utility's $15 billion plan includes:

*Construction of an additional 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity supplementing the 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy DTE has built since 2009

*The addition of 3,500 megawatts of natural gas-fired energy capacity to supply 24/7 power and ensure reliability.

*Investment of $5 billion over the next five years to modernize the electric grid and gas infrastructure, ensuring reliability while creating and supporting more than 10,000 Michigan jobs

*Continued heavy investment in energy efficiency and energy waste reduction, helping customers to both save money and take control over their energy use.