Enforce a Maximum Salary for Executives

wall street

Target: Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner

Goal: Create policies to set a maximum salary for the chief executives of large companies

According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), Fortune 500 chief executives made $12 million on average in 2012, approximately 350 times the average worker’s wage. This difference in income is one of the most devastating examples of injustice in the United States, and it’s not getting better: research recently published in Pathways Magazine suggests that between 2009 to 2011 the incomes of the wealthiest 1% of Americans grew by 11.2%. In contrast, income for all other Americans actually decreased slightly.

Placing a cap on the amount of money made by chief executive officers (CEOs) of large corporations is an essential step toward reducing income disparity. One option would be to set the ceiling at a certain multiple of the wages of the lowest earners in that company. For instance, Switzerland recently voted on a referendum to impose a “maximum wage” which would cap executive salaries at 12 times the amount of the lowest earners (the referendum, sadly, was eventually defeated).

Some opponents argue that a maximum salary based on the earnings of workers on a company-by-company basis would create unfair disadvantages for companies who have a larger range of employee income levels. These differences could lead to Company A paying some employees less than Company B while generating more revenue, or to some of Company A’s employees making more money than Company B’s CEOs. But these concerns pale in comparison to the economic hardships experienced by average-salary workers (not to mention those making minimum wage or even less).

Of course, capping CEO salaries represents just one step in a series of events needed to reduce income disparity. According to the AFL-CIO, CEOs make the majority of their money from sources other than salary, including bonuses, stocks and options, pensions and other perks. When viewed all together the average CEO earns nearly $6,000 an hour. Meanwhile, minimum wage in some states remains as low as $5.15 per hour. The system is clearly broken.

Urge members of Congress to help reverse this disparity in income. Ask House Speaker John Boehner for help in creating laws that restrict outrageous wages for CEOs.


Dear Representative Boehner,

Differences in wealth plague our country. The “American Dream” of equal opportunity for all citizens has been displaced by an extreme disparity in pay between the poorest and wealthiest.

In order to address this gap in wealth I urge you to consider laws that cap the earnings of CEOs of large corporations. Whether the cap be a set amount or a sliding ceiling based on a percentage of the average or lowest paid workers’ earnings, either option is better than allowing some individuals to make in an hour what it takes their employees several months to earn.

Placing a cap on CEOs’ salaries is just one step in reducing large disparity in incomes. Most of the money that CEOs make comes from sources other than their salaries, including stocks, pension plans and other perks. On average CEOs make about $6,000 an hour, which is more than one thousand times the minimum wage in states like Wyoming and Georgia.

I urge you to use your power to help end this injustice. Call for a maximum salary cap for CEOs in order to make the United States a place where all individuals, rather than just a handful, can pursue their right to life, liberty and happiness.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrés Nieto Porras via Flickr

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