Laboring for $10/hour- or $10 million a Year

If you’re a CEO at one of California’s big utility companies or even a lowly vice president, lobbyist or attorney, you’ve got plenty to celebrate this labor day. An astounding number of higher-ups at PG&E, Edison and SDG&E are paid well over a million dollars a year.   Most of that comes out of your monthly utility bills- even though you’re likely laboring for far less.

According to the AFL-CIO’s revamped executive paywatch database, the average pay for a CEO in California is over $5 million a year, while the average worker makes $48, 691. Utility CEOs in California take home about $10 million a year, which may be why they are out of touch with the struggles their customers face.   Every time rates go up, customers are told “its just a few cents” or “just a dollar.” But every increase widens the affordability gap. A growing number of Californians are being left in the dark. Over 700,000 were shut off last year, and this year will likely be worse.

Those of us at the bottom know that wages, especially minimum wages, haven’t kept up with inflation. And a new report by the California Budget Project predicts that future job growth will be in low-paid jobs in the food sector.

These customer financed pay packages aren’t even because Edison, SDG&E and PG&E are doing a good job. All three have had spectacular failures in the past few years, including the San Bruno explosion, the debacle at San Onofre, and wildfire responsibility, just to name a few. In all three cases, the utilities have tried to get customers to pick up the tab for their colossal and expensive mistakes. TURN has fought back and won cost accountability for wildfires, and is poised to do the same for San Onofre and San Bruno.

Customers want safe and reliable service, and pay their bills each month with the expectation that is what their utility company is going to provide. But ballooning executive pay, “administrative” expenses and unnecessary expenditures should not be allowed to drive rates up even further, leaving more and more customers in the dark.

Labor day is a great day to learn more about the executive/worker pay gap- check out the new website here: http://www.aflcio.org/Corporate-Watch/Paywatch-2014/CEO-Pay-by-State