May Day and pay inequities

5/19/2018, 9:51 p.m.

Rallies and marches took place on Tuesday across the United States and the globe to highlight the rights of workers and labor issues.

The annual May Day celebration, occurring on May 1, is known as International Workers’ Day.

In several large U.S. cities, marchers also took aim at the Trump administration’s policies, including recent immigration crackdowns that many said target workers in the lowest-paying jobs. They also decried the administration’s decision to end temporary protected status for immigrants from nations such as Haiti, Sudan, El Salvador and Nicaragua who are fleeing from conflict or natural disaster.

Marchers also called attention to President Trump’s racist, xenophobic and homophobic rhetoric and policies, as well as his proposals and actions that are hostile to the environment. Many called for voters to turn out at the polls for the November midterm congressional elections.

We believe May Day is another time for pointing out the disgraceful inequities in pay for most American workers. Thanks to a new federal regulation, publicly traded U.S. corporations must disclose for the first time how much their chief executives are making compared with their median workers. 

The results so far only confirm what we already know — that wealth isn’t shared with workers. Ninety-nine percent of the American people toil for low wages while the top 1 percent get richer.

Reports from several corporations filed earlier this year show the CEO of Marathon Petroleum made 935 times more pay than his typical employee in 2017. Other reports show an even more widely skewed imbalance in the CEO-to-worker pay ratio, including:

    • Temp agency Manpower — 2,483 to1

      • Amusement park Six Flags — 1,920 to 1

      • Del Monte produce — 1,465 to 1

      • Apparel maker VF — 1,353 to 1

      • Auto parts maker Aptiv — 2,526 to 1

The figures lend even more evidence to the fact that income inequality exists throughout our communities and that this serious issue needs to be addressed. The recent Trump administration tax cut that had a trickle-down effect of some companies offering one-time bonuses or rebates to their workers is not salve for the gaping wound that is hurting American families.

African-Americans and other workers of color bear a large brunt of the greed, with a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showing that workers of color are paid less than their white male colleagues, irrespective of having a college degree.

We renew our call for the minimum wage in Virginia and across the nation to be raised to $15 an hour. We also call for companies to stop their shameful greedy practice of fattening the pocketbooks of their top executives, while ignoring the wage needs of those who make their companies profitable.

A company is only as strong as those who do the work. Workers should be justly rewarded.