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CEO Pay Now 380 Times Average Worker's, Says AFL-CIO

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just when you thought executive compensation couldn't get much higher, the average CEO pay increased 14 percent to $12.9 million in 2011, 380 times that of the average worker, according to the AFL-CIO's annual Executive Paywatch report released on Thursday.

The report, called CEO Pay and the 99 percent, found that among the 300 firms of the S&P 500 companies that filed annual proxy reports, the average level of CEO pay rose 13.9 percent, following a 22.8-percent rise in 2010.

The national labor group launched its Executive Paywatch analysis 15 years ago to inform the public about growing inequality in labor wages, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a press conference about this year's report.

As CEO pay increased, Trumka said more than 12 million workers are without a job, and "those with a job had a 2.8-percent raise, barely keeping up with inflation," he said.

The updated data is searchable by industry and state, and includes a list of the 100 highest-paid CEOs.

The report shows the growing gap between pay of workers and CEOs, allowing visitors to the Executive Paywatch site to compare their own pay to that of various CEOs and the average worker, which was $34,053 in 2011, according to the AFL-CIO.

For the first time, the website details how mutual fund companies have voted as shareholders on executive compensation packages. The report looked at the 40 largest mutual fund families to see how they influence executive compensation, encouraging transparency on behalf of workers who hold fund investments. Trumka explained that investors can see how their mutual funds voted, and can voice their concerns about CEO pay.

"Mutual funds wield enormous clout on CEO pay issues, thanks to the new CEO 'say-on-pay' requirement [in which] shareholders can cast a vote on CEO pay," Trumka said.

Mutual fund company Harbor Funds was labeled as the biggest "pay enabler" by the AFL-CIO for voting against less than 1 percent of executive compensation packages. Mutual funds from Federated Investors allowed that investment company to be crowned the biggest "pay constrainer" for voting against 73.6 percent of pay packages.

FirstMerit Corp. became the fourth company this year on Wednesday to have a failed vote from shareholders about executive compensation. Citigroup had its failed vote on Tuesday after Actuant Corp., an industrial manufacturer and distributor, and International Game Technology, a gaming machines company.

Most companies with publicly traded stock held "say-on-pay" votes in 2011, according to the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission exempted smaller companies with less than $75 million in publicly traded stock from holding these votes until 2013. Only 41 out of the 3,000 companies in the Russell 3000 Index had failed "say-on-pay" votes last year, according to Ted Allen, spokesman for ISS Proxy Advisory Services.

The following is the AFL-CIO's list of top 10 mutual fund family "pay enablers" and the percentage of pay packages they voted against.

  1. 0.59 percent -- Harbor Funds
  2. 1.34 percent -- Goldman Sachs Asset Management
  3. 1.37 percent -- The Vanguard group
  4. 2.87 percent -- Lord Abbett and Co.
  5. 3.37 percent -- BlackRock
  6. 3.69 percent -- TIAA-Cref
  7. 4.13 percent -- ING Funds
  8. 5.67 percent -- Putnam Investments
  9. 5.97 percent -- T. Rowe Price
  10. 7.18 percent -- Nationwide Mutual Funds

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