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WASHINGTON, DC: A new study by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reveals the disparity between CEO and worker compensation in 100 S&P 500 corporations that had the lowest median pay levels last year at 603 to 1.

CEOs in this group averaged US$15.3 million while median worker pay was US$31,672.

These companies with the lowest pay levels for their employees have also spent US$341.2 billion on stock buybacks since 2020 – a manoeuver that artificially inflates executive stock-based compensation.

As a result, CEO personal stock holdings have increased more than three times as fast as their firms’ median worker pay, says the IPS report.

According to a recent SEC filing, UPS CEO Carol Tomé’s 2022 compensation was nearly US$19 million, down from US$27.6 million in 2021. More than US$15 million of Tomé's compensation was stock awards, and another US$1.2 million was from stock options and US$1 million from an incentive plan. Her base salary was about $1.5 million.

Glassdoor estimates current median salary for a UPS driver is $50,000 not including overtime and benefits (health, vacation and pension). According to reports, Tomé says the new Teamsters contract with the company will, after five years, provide a UPS driver with US$170,000 in total pay and benefits.

The new five-year master agreement is the result of protracted contract negotiations between UPS and 340,000 Teamster union employees that came within a few weeks of a strike before the deal was agreed and ratified in August.

“Together we reached a win-win-win agreement on the issues that are important to Teamsters leadership, our employees and to UPS and our customers,” commented Tomé. “This agreement continues to reward UPS’s full- and part-time employees with industry-leading pay and benefits while retaining the flexibility we need to stay competitive, serve our customers and keep our business strong.”

Union general president Sean M. O’Brien took a slightly different tone: “Teamsters have set a new standard and raised the bar for pay, benefits, and working conditions in the package delivery industry. This is the template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide, and nonunion companies like Amazon better pay attention.”

IPS notes Amazon is the largest contractor in the low-wage group, with at least US$10.4 billion in federal deals in the past few years, mostly from a National Security Agency web services contract. The company has announced 27,000 employees will lose their jobs this year.

The new UPS union deal will ensure Teamster members remain the highest paid delivery drivers in the U.S., improving their average top rate to $49 per hour. The company has also agreed to the creation of 7,500 new full-time Teamster jobs at UPS and the fulfillment of 22,500 open positions, establishing more opportunities through the life of the agreement for part-timers to transition to full-time work.

“This is the richest national contract I’ve seen in my more than 40 years of representing Teamsters at UPS,” said Teamsters general secretary-treasurer Fred Zuckerman. “There are more gains in this contract than in any other UPS agreement and with no givebacks to the company. But the hard work doesn’t end here. We will continue to fight like hell to enforce this contract and make sure UPS lives up to every word of it over the next five years.”

The IPS is a multi-issue research center that has conducted research on executive compensation for more than two decades.
 
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