In 2015, CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies received, on average, $12.4 million in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available data. In contrast, production and nonsupervisory workers earned only $36,875, on average, in 2015—a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 335 to 1.

Avoiding corporate income taxes is one way CEOs boost their companies’ profits and thereby increase their own pay. This corporate tax avoidance reduces the amount of money that is available for public goods like roads and schools. As a result, our economy increasingly has become out of balance.

    CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratios


    Corporations like to complain that their federal income tax rates are too high. But lost amid the clamor to cut taxes for corporations is the fact that many U.S. corporations are not paying taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes. The table to the right presents the biggest offenders.

      Citizens for Tax Justice, Fortune 500 Companies Hold a Record $2.4 Trillion Offshore. AFL-CIO analysis of S&P 500 CEO pay data.


      The top federal income tax rate for corporations is 35%. But corporations have been paying a lower share of our nation’s total taxes. Overall, the nation’s federal revenue from corporate income tax receipts dropped dramatically to half of that in the 1950s.

        Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj). Office of Management and Budget, Table 2.2—Percentage Composition of Receipts by Source: 1934–2021.


        Many companies complain that the statutory U.S. corporate income tax rate is too high. They’re wrong. In reality, the effective tax rate (what U.S. corporations actually pay) is lower than many developed countries. As a result, the corporate income tax in the U.S. represents a smaller percentage of our economy compared to other countries.

          Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Revenue Statistics, Comparative Tables, Tax on Corporate Profits

          Sources: Citizens for Tax Justice, Fortune 500 Companies Hold a Record $2.4 Trillion Offshore. RSMeans, Construction Cost Estimates.

          Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Activities of U.S. Multinational Enterprises in 2013, August 2015


          CEO pay is also high at companies that have reincorporated or undergone a corporate “inversion” to move their tax domicile from the United States to a country that does not tax overseas profits.

          * Compensation for 2015 not yet available. Compensation year shown is 2014.

          Source: AFL-CIO analysis of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings

          Company CEO 2015 Compensation
          Valeant Pharmaceutical International J. Michael Pearson $143,077,442
          Medtronic Omar Ishrak $39,460,266
          Aon plc Gregory C. Case $29,735,220
          Liberty Global Plc Michael T. Fries $27,701,175
          Allergan Brenton L. Saunders $21,565,549
          Mylan N.V. Heather Bresch $18,931,068
          Eaton Corporation A. M. Cutler $15,649,592
          Wright Medical Group Robert J. Palmisano $15,025,738
          Alkermes PLC Richard F. Pops $12,407,489
          Lazard Kenneth M. Jacobs $11,672,538
          *Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc Bruce C. Cozadd $11,555,501
          Endo International plc Rajiv De Silva $10,914,725

          Mary Willis, Job Outsourced Again

          “They quit me. I didn’t quit them,” Mary Willis said about the Nabisco bakery on the South Side of Chicago. She was among hundreds of workers laid off in March when Mondelēz International, Nabisco’s parent company, decided to move its cookie and cracker production lines from Chicago to Mexico.

          Last year, Mondelēz executives approached the workers about the investments needed to keep the bakery open and then placed the burden on the workers. They then asked them to give up 60% of their wages and benefits in perpetuity or have their jobs moved to Mexico.

          Meanwhile, Irene Rosenfeld, the Mondelēz CEO, received a $7 million raise in 2014. (She received nearly $20 million in compensation in 2015.) Working families and our communities once again bear the brunt of corporate greed.

          Willis, a member of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 300, is all too familiar with the feeling of loss when your job is outsourced or when a company files for bankruptcy protection, only to restructure.

          She worked at the Hostess Brands Schiller Park bakery for 10 years and was devastated, in 2012, when bankruptcy proceedings shuttered the plant and eliminated the livelihoods of 300 workers. Before that, she worked at the Chicago Entenmann’s bakery, which eventually moved production out of Chicago and closed the plant for good. And before that, she worked at Brach’s—the historic, sprawling Chicago candy production plant—until the 1990s, when the company moved the jobs to Mexico.

          “It seems that hard work doesn’t matter anymore. This is the corporate attitude. And it used to be that places like Nabisco were proud places to work, but now workers like me are tossed to the curb despite years of dedication,” Willis said.

            TAKE ACTION

            Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO of Mondelēz, which is the parent company of Nabisco, decided to offshore more than 600 jobs—good-paying jobs that anchor the local economy—to Mexico because the loyal and hardworking employees turned down a 60% cut in pay and benefits. Meanwhile, a year before this announcement was made, Rosenfeld received a $7 million raise.

            The tax loophole that permits the deferral of taxes on unrepatriated profits encourages this type of offshoring. As of December 31, 2015, Mondelēz had accumulated $19.2 billion in unrepatriated profits from its overseas operations.

            Sign the petition and urge Irene Rosenfeld to save good jobs for hundreds of Chicago’s working people and the communities that depend upon them.