COMP NEWS – A new Institute for Policy Studies report indicates that the more companies underpay their workers, the higher their executives’ compensation is.

Ticketmaster isn’t just crappy to its customers and to the musicians whose shows it manages ticket sales for.

As a dominant event middleman, it tacks on hefty fees and has the effrontery to call them “convenience charges.” And bands complain that by the time parent company Live Nation Entertainment deducts its many cuts for their shows, they’re left struggling to survive while others profit from their work.

Turns out, Live Nation also pays its employees poorly while paying its CEO, Michael Rapino, like a pharaoh. In 2022, the median Live Nation employee earned just $25,673, while Rapino hauled in a tidy $139 million, or more than 5,400 times as much as the employee who fell in the middle of his company’s income distribution, according to Institute for Policy a report that was released today.

The findings were part of the 29th annual “Executive Excess” report by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive Washington, D.C. think tank. While companies complained about the lack of available workers during the pandemic, this year’s report says that for at least 100 corporations, executives managed to keep worker pay down while giving themselves huge raises.

“In response to strikes and union organizing drives, corporate leaders routinely insist that they simply lack the wherewithal to raise employee pay,” the report said. “And yet top executives seem to have little trouble finding resources for enriching themselves and wealthy shareholders.”

The report said that in the case of Live Nation, the company wants investors to know that the situation isn’t as unfair as all that. If you take into account the fact that most of the company’s employees are part-time and and set them aside — and if you set aside a mammoth payment Rapino received in 2022 — the CEO only made 350 times as much as his median-paid, full-time worker did.

The report compiled a list of 100 low-paying firms on the S&P 500 and found that the total value of their stock buybacks in 2022 was roughly $340 billion.

The Institute for Policy Research report compiled a list of the “Low Wage 100” — the 100 firms listed on the S&P 500 who paid the worker that fell in the middle of their pay range the least. When the researchers looked at this group, they found that it bought back $340 billion worth of stock in 2022 and their CEOs’ stock holdings increased at three times the rate of their median workers’ pay.

At the top of the buyback list was home-improvement mega-store owner Lowes, which bought back $35 billion in stock. While its median employee made just less than $30,000 in 2022, CEO Marvin Ellison made $17.5 million, the report said.

While many workers for Low Wage 100 companies effectively subsidized their CEOs’ gargantuan salaries with under-compensated work, employees with half those companies were also subsidizing them with their federal tax dollars.

Fifty one of the companies received a combined $24 billion in federal contracts between fiscal years 2020 and 2023. During the same period, those companies engaged in $160 billion worth of stock buybacks, the report said.

Amazon was the biggest in the group, getting more than $10 billion in federal business, much of it for classified work for the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense. As it did, Amazon’s top corporate leadership has done quite well.

To read more about how CEO pay has skyrocketed while workers’ wages lag behind, click here.

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