Soapbox

Another View: CEO-worker pay disparity matters

Protesters chant for increased wages and union rights at fast-food restaurants in Las Vegas last September. The California Endowment says raising the state minimum wage would help more people afford healthy food and life-saving medications.
Protesters chant for increased wages and union rights at fast-food restaurants in Las Vegas last September. The California Endowment says raising the state minimum wage would help more people afford healthy food and life-saving medications. Associated Press file

The American Enterprise Institute and Employment Policies Institute challenge our ads to boost the minimum wage (“Ad campaign to boost minimum wage relies on some fuzzy math,” Viewpoints, Feb. 25).

We stand by our ad that contrasts the pay of a typical CEO with a minimum-wage worker.

There are many studies that estimate CEO pay. We used estimates from a study done by the Associated Press and Equilar, an executive pay research firm, which was widely distributed and cited this past year. Their estimates also fell in the middle of the studies we reviewed.

For example, Bloomberg Business reported on a study from Demos, a public policy organization, which puts the gap between fast-food CEOs and their frontline workers at more than 1,200 to 1. The article states that “fast-food CEOs are some of the highest-paid executives in America, with an average compensation of $26.7 million in 2012. Fast-food workers are the lowest-paid. Their average hourly wage is $9.09.”

Fast-food workers are on the front lines of the minimum wage and paid medical leave efforts in Sacramento. We stand by them as well.

President Barack Obama has called economic inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” Of all the developed nations, the United States now has one of the highest levels of inequality. Women and men, mothers and fathers, are all working hard, putting in long hours, but still can’t meet their families’ basic needs, let alone keep their children healthy.

Raising the state minimum wage would help more people afford healthy food and life-saving medications. A study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that low wages are a risk factor for hypertension among working people.

Our state and nation are better than this. We welcome discussion with anyone on how to take on this challenge.

Daniel Zingale is senior vice president of the California Endowment.

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