A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
The magnolia trees are blooming on the East Coast. And now a Labor Spring is blooming too! Just yesterday, 9,000 workers at Rutgers University — from tenured faculty to grad student teaching assistants — went on strike for the first time in the university’s 257-year history.
“We intend for this new contract to be transformative,” Rebecca Given, president of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors-AFT union, told the New York Times, “especially for our lowest-paid and most vulnerable members.”
In Indiana and Kentucky, workers at two Sysco locations have just won higher wages and better retirements after a two-week strike, proof positive, noted Teamsters president Sean O’Brien, that workers standing together "can take on anyone and win the fight, even America’s biggest corporations."
These two struggles — one against a university sitting on a nearly $2 billion dollar endowment, the other over a CEO cashing in enormous checks — remind us that we remain a nation of unequally distributed abundance. We can fight this inequality on the picket line. We can also fight it, the upcoming Tax Day reminds us, by working to untangle the webs our richest weave to hide their wealth.
Our Charity Reform Initiative team is doing just that, targeting how our wealthiest are exploiting “donor-advised funds” to sidestep taxes. DAFs are currently sitting on over $234 billion that’s supposed to be helping build stronger communities.
We invite you to join us for a webinar we’re co-hosting April 21 with Philanthropy Northwest on the rise of DAFs as a philanthropic vehicle and the benefits and challenges of this trend for both nonprofits and DAF sponsors.
As always, if you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it! Accountability research and commentary can only thrive through word of mouth. Thanks!
Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Profits Trump Safety: The Fight Back Against Big-Time Railroad Greed
A bombshell U.S. Justice Department filing against Norfolk Southern has revealed the sheer greed at one of the nation’s largest railroad giants. Some “80 percent of the compensation” for Norfolk Southern’s top honchos, the filing reveals, depends on how big the company’s profit margin is running. The larger the profit, the larger the pay for the railroad’s execs. Alan Shaw, who became Norfolk Southern’s CEO last May, has watched his compensation double to $9.8 million.
And what’s making Norfolk Southern so profitable? The railroad has been cutting jobs and reducing safety inspections, a two-step that’s creating unsafe working conditions. Fritz Edler, the pictured-above safety representative for Railroad Workers United — a grouping that unites rank-and-file rail workers across all rail crafts — is warning that unchecked greed is creating workplace dangers across the United States. Veteran labor journalist Mark Gruenberg has the full story.
NY Must Choose: Raise Main Street Wages or Line Wall Street Pockets?
New York's lawmakers and Governor Hochul are struggling to come up with a new budget. The biggest obstacle to an agreement between them? That just may be how equitably New York will raise its minimum wage.
Amid skyrocketing living costs throughout the state, the current minimum wage — $15 only in New York City — no longer rates as anywhere near tenable. Raising the minimum to $21.25 and indexing it to inflation, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would cost just $9.5 million annually for nearly 3 million state workers.
Inequality.org’s Bella DeVaan has just compared that price tag to our Sarah Anderson’s recent analysis of Wall Street bonuses. The main takeaway of that analysis: The 2022 Wall Street bonus pool could have supplied a meaningful raise for New York’s minimum wage workers and still had $24 billion left over for lining the already-stuffed pockets of our high-finance bros. More at the link below.
This week on Inequality.org
Bob Hertz, Our Ambulances Should Be Free. The affluent should pay their fair tax share to help make that access a reality for everyone.
Sarah Anderson, Wall Street Bonuses Decline But Still Dwarf Worker Pay Increases Since 2008 Crash. Since 2008, growth in the average Wall Street bonus has far outstripped wage growth for ordinary U.S. workers.
Elsewhere on the Web
Bob Lord, America only had a handful of billionaires 40 years ago. We’re now creating ‘centibillionaires’–and unless we tax them, trillionaires, Fortune. Between 2013 and 2018, Americans worth over $100 billion paid no more than 11 percent of their incomes in federal income tax, with all but two paying under 5 percent.
Vanya Gautam, Bernard Arnault Becomes the Third Person in the World to Hit $200 Billion Net Worth, India Times. The net worth of French luxury goods maker LVMH Group’s chair has soared $37 billion so far this year, thanks to soaring demand for luxury goods among the world’s wealthy.
Nick Hanauer, Six Ways Existing Economic Models Are Killing the Economy, American Prospect. The economic models that policymakers in Washington pay homage to massively benefit the rich and massively disadvantage everyone and everything else.
Danny Dorling, Have we reached peak inequality? Prospect. Britain’s gap between rich and poor continues to run wider than it has for a century. Change seems impossible, but it may have already begun.
Dani Anguiano, Far-right county throws out voting machines – with nothing to replace them, Guardian. Bankrolling the move to throw out voting machines in a far-right Northern California county: a Connecticut mega millionaire.
Jim Hammerand, GE HealthCare’s CEO earned more than GE’s CEO before spinoff, Medical Design & Outsourcing. Why does health care cost so much? One clue: The top three execs at GE HealthCare last year all took home over $6 million each.
Josie Cox, Voting For A Left-Leaning Politician Can Reduce CEO Pay By Almost 6%, Forbes. New research conducted by business school academics in the UK and Turkey shows that elections that bring pro-equality politicians to power end up lowering the pay of corporate chief execs in their nations.
Clare Thorp, Why the super-rich love understated dressing, BBC. The TV series Succession has wealth consultants to advise on every minor detail and costume designers who carefully construct a wardrobe that truly reflects the 0.01 percent.
Julia Reichert, Union Maids. This 1976 documentary features oral histories of three Chicago activists in the pivotal 1930s. Author Alice Walker has called Union Maids “the most energizing, exhilarating labor organizing movie imaginable.” Notes Walker: “I could see for myself there really is 'joy in the struggle'!"
Imara Jones, Trans Bill of Rights, TransLash Podcast. Jones speaks with Representative Pramila Jayapal about her work on the Transgender Equality Task Force and efforts to introduce the Transgender Bill of Rights in Congress.
Teddy Ostrow, Is This The Upsurge? The Upsurge. McGill sociology professor Barry Eidlin joins Ostrow to discuss the potential for enormous strikes by the Teamsters and United Auto Workers later this year.
Women now make up more than 10 percent of Fortune
500 CEOs – the largest share in history but still constitute just a tiny fraction of an elite group that earned $18.3 million on average in 2021
. By contrast, women make up 63.5 percent of workers earning the federal minimum wage.
Inequality.org | www.inequality.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Editor: Rebekah Entralgo
Co-Editors: Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, and Isabella DeVaan
Production: Isabella DeVaan
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