248-409-1900 dburke@mi-worklaw.com

By: Bill Pilchak – 2/17/15

I am under firm orders from the “social director” not to discuss politics at family functions any more. You can only imagine why. I actually agree with the social director. Regrettably, one of my last conversations with a cousin before she died was on politics. It wasn’t the way I would have ended our 55+ year relationship, if given the choice.

Yet, late last month, an erstwhile group of cousins of the male persuasion somehow got on the subject of CEO earnings. This is a popular subject among wage earners, especially with our President constantly decrying the 1%ers.

I gently made a point, lest the social director across the room hear our subject. I could have mentioned that if Walmart CEO’s $25.6 Million dollar compensation was divided among Walmart’s 2.2 Million associates in the world, each would get an extra $11.64 per year, or ½ of a cent per hour if they worked full time. Instead, I used a sports analogy as I often have in front of juries. I told them that I didn’t understand how we so readily exalt athletes for their astronomic salaries for playing games that anyone else considers recreation, but we are resentful of executives who similarly competed against the best in their fields and rose to the top only to assume massive responsibility and a crushing workload. I questioned the prospect that one hot-shot in a jersey is worth more than someone responsible for maintaining the investment of billions of dollars and the employment of anywhere from tens of thousands to- in the case of Walmart- millions of employees.

I didn’t carry the conversation further. I didn’t express my suspicion that the universe of mega-million dollar CEOs was likely smaller than the universe of mega-million dollar American athletes, let alone world athletes, which is the proper comparison in the case of multi-national companies.

I did, however, wonder how CEOs and athletes actually compare. As such, let me dove-tail some pro-star salaries with CEO salaries.

Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers- $72.3 million.

Les Moonves, CBS Corp. – $66.6 million.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers- $61.5 million.

Daniel Hesse, Sprint- $49 million

Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons- $43.8 Million

Philippe P. Dauman, Viacom- $37.1 million

Robert Igor, Disney – $34.3 million

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions- $33 million

Jeffrey Bewkes, Viacom- $32.5 million

Brian Roberts, Comcast- $31.3 million

W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil- $28.1 million

Payton Manning, Denver Broncos- $27 million

Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart- $25.6 million

Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed-Martin, $25.1 million

Miguel Cabrerra, Detroit Tigers, $24.6 million

Charles W. Scharf, VISA, $24.2 million

Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers, $23.9 million

James McNerney Jr., Boeing- $23.2 million

Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Co.- $23.2 million

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, $22 million

I. Chenault, American Express- $21.8 million

Andrew N. Liveris, Dow Chemical- $20.4 million

Carlos Dunlop, (a 25 year old Cincinnati Bengals defensive end)- $18.8 million

Hope this puts CEO pay in the right perspective. Some of the superstars on the list above are largely responsible for the world economy, millions of paychecks, and the investments that most of our 401-k accounts rely upon. The others are good entertainment. Which is more valuable? Tom Gorzelanny