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Idaho union manipulates numbers to push class warfare agenda

Idaho union manipulates numbers to push class warfare agenda

Dustin Hurst
May 14, 2015
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May 14, 2015

Class warfare is hard.

In a deft move featuring some nifty sleight of hand, the AFL-CIO and Boise Weekly manipulated pay data to push their class warfare agenda.

The headline was pure clickbait, crafted for shock value: “Executive PayWatch Report: Idaho CEO Pay Outpaces Gem State Workers 126-1.”

If only it were remotely close to the truth. But it’s not. Not at all because reality isn’t sexy and won’t advance the union cause.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor’s 2014 employment and wage survey, the average Idaho executive brings home about $59 an hour, or about $118,000 a year. (See that data here.)

That’s only $4.4 million off from the figure Boise Weekly writer George Prentice reported in his reworking of the union’s report.

“In its Executive PayWatch report, the AFL-CIO says the top-salaried CEOs in Idaho are paid 126 times more than their average workers, representing the largest pay increases since the recession,” Prentice wrote Wednesday.

Remember, Prentice’s headline said Idaho CEOs outpaced workers 126-to-1. His lead offers more nuance, noting only the “top-salaried” CEOs outpace workers.

See what happened there?

The AFL-CIO used only the salaries of Idaho’s top six CEOS to find the 126-to-1 ratio, which is true if readers believe the selective data.

Instead, the department’s data are far more accurate. The agency says in 2014, 570 Idaho CEOs averaged $59 an hour. Starting pay for an executive in Idaho? A modest $19 an hour, or about $40,000 a year.

Department of Labor data reveals average worker pay at $18 an hour, or $36,000 a year.

Working with actual and believable numbers, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio is actually about 3-to-1.

The union also failed to adjust for industry averages, which Prentice didn’t note in his report.

While the Hecla CEO brings home $4.6 million annually, miners typically pocket more than the union-cited $37,116 a year for the average worker. Mining engineers, for example, bring home an average of about $42 an hour, or about $84,000 a year.

The Idaho chapter of the AFL-CIO did not answer an email asking why it highlighted only 1.05 percent of CEOs in Idaho.

There is at least some irony in the whole debacle, though. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, earns a staggering $154 an hour, money forcibly taken from hundreds of thousands through union perks written in law. At a total of about $322,000 a year, Trumka is among the top 2 percent of America’s earners.

In case you’re wondering, Trumka earns about 8.5 times the average Idaho worker.

Yeah, class warfare is really hard.

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