So there was this.
I don’t know how much the average worker at those plants makes, but looking at the low end of pay scale for assembly line workers for GM ($12/hour) 15,000 full time workers comes to $7.2 million per week or $226 million over the course of a year, just from wages and not counting things like employer contribution to SS, Workman’s comp, insurance and other benefits, and so forth that the company is on the hook for. The actual total cost of that labor would be enough higher that, frankly, even if the CEO’s pay was reduced to zero and that money used to pay the workers it wouldn’t keep them at work another week.
OTOH, GM’s revenue for 2018 was $147 billion. Gross profit was $10.8 billion so expenses would be the difference between those or $136 billion. A CEO whose decisions can affect either revenue or expenses even a single percent Can cost, or save the company over a billion dollars a year. Given the value to the company of what a CEO does, $22 million is a bargain.
People make these kinds of comparisons as though there’s some kind of direct cause–workers have to be laid off because of high CEO pay. The comparisons are bullshit. CEO’s get paid what they do because the work they do is enormously valuable to the company. And labor is paid what it is paid because the value the individual worker brings to the company is what it is. Yes, all the workers together bring enormous value to the company. And all the workers together get paid a combined amount that dwarfs the CEO pay. (What I did up there for the 15,000 laid off? Do that for the entire 180,000 or so that GM employs in toto.)