How an AFL-CIO Agitprop Manufactures #FakeNews on CEO Pay

The AFL-CIO and a union-funded ‘agitprop’ called the Economic Policy Institute want you to believe the ‘average’ CEO in America makes over 300 times more than ‘a typical worker.’

Here’s how you’re being misled…


Agitprop, abbreviated from Russian agitatsiya propaganda (agitation propaganda), political strategy in which the techniques of agitation and propaganda are used to influence and mobilize public opinion. — Encyclopedia Britannica


The Big Lie.

It’s been said that if you “repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

Although the above quote is attributed to Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda technique—now sometimes referred to as the Illusory Truth Effect—did not die when Nazi Germany was defeated.

Rather, the “big lie tactic” can be seen here, within the United States today.

Although its use is not restricted to any particular group or political party, one example of how it is being used to great effect in the American culture is the topic of executive compensation.

Here’s an example:

A screenshot of the Economic Policy Institute home page. Date: Aug. 20, 2018

Executive compensation has become one of many weapons in the arsenal of unions and the Left to foment class warfare here in the United States.





After reading these headlines, were you left with the impression that all CEOs all across America (aka “the rich”) are getting richer, while the poor (workers) are getting poorer?

If so, that is the desired effect. That is exactly what the AFL-CIO wants you to believe.

The problem is, while overall wages have about the same purchasing power they did 40 years ago, by reading any of the above headlines, most readers are led to believe that all CEOs are raking in millions of dollars per year “at the expense” of workers.

That’s just not true.

Here’s the Facts:

The U.S. economy is, without a doubt, the richest and most diverse economy that is, heretofore, known to man.

Originally founded on free-market principles, today’s mixed economy consists of over 5.9 million employers in the U.S., in all types of industries.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (in Excel), there are:

  • 3,643,737 employers with 0-4 employees;
  • 1,004,555 employers with 5-9 employees;
  • 617,390 employers with 10-19 employees;
  • 526,106 employers with 20-99 employees;
  • 89,479 employers with 100-499 employees; and
  • 19,464 employers with greater than 500 employees.

Now, within that mix of several million employers, there are 210,160 individuals who hold the title of CEO, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Among those 210,160 CEOs, the annual median salary is $183,270*, or $88.11 per hour.

Their annual mean salary, according to the BLS, was $196,050*, or $94.25 per hour, in 2017.

* Note: Despite CEOs working a mean of 58.15 hours per week, both annual salary figures are based on a 40-hour workweek.

Enter the AFL-CIO and its Economic Policy Institute.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a largely union-funded “think tank” that was created in 1986 to “include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.”

Working hand-in-hand with other allies on the Left, the EPI was formed as a sort of agitprop with the stated goal to “create an intellectual climate that gives politicians more courage to advocate greater government management of the economy.” [Emphasis added.]

In addition to seven other union presidents serving on its 33-member board, its current chairman is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The AFL-CIO/EPI CEO Pay Parlor Trick

While class warfare has been part of the capital vs. labor struggle since the 1800s, it has not been until the last several decades that unions have begun using generally deceptive tactics on a more widespread basis.

For example, in a 2006 post, the EPI stated:

In 2005, an average Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was paid 821 times as much as a minimum wage earner, who earns just $5.15 per hour. An average CEO earns more before lunchtime on the very first day of work in the year than a minimum wage worker earns all year. [Emphasis added.]

While the EPI’s statement succeeded in smearing the “average” CEO with a broad brush, it is not until the footnotes on the bottom of the EPI post, however, that the reader was informed that—like the AFL-CIO’s skewed data—the survey EPI based its conclusion on consisted only of “350 large industrial and service firms.”

In other words, the EPI’s blanket and misleading statement that a CEO was paid 821 times more than a minimum wage worker was based on the highest-paid CEOs in corporate America, not the average CEO.

Spreading the Deception.

With the advent of social media over the last 15 years, unions have been able to weaponize the deception.

For example, when the EPI released its most recent report last week, while the report specifically noted “the average CEO of the 350 largest firms in the U.S.,” the headline did not [emphasis added].

A screenshot of the Economic Policy Institute home page. Date: Aug. 20, 2018

Consequentially, most of the coverage following the EPI’s report does not make the distinction between “the average CEO of the 350 largest firms in the U.S.” and all CEOs in the U.S.

This allows the EPI’s message to get repeated in the media (like the above examples) and on social media (like below) without the important distinction.


It would be bad enough were it merely left-leaning publications and social media echoing the AFL-CIO and EPI’s class warfare rhetoric.

However, with all of the moneys unions donate to Democrat politicians, the EPI’s misleading rhetoric is echoed in the halls of Congress as well.


Through the EPI, over the last few decades, unions have been able to create a sufficient enough echo chamber to accomplish its stated goal: to “create an intellectual climate that gives politicians more courage to advocate greater government management of the economy.”

Thanks to the misleading messaging, we have seen the rise (and serious acceptance) of politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and, more recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who openly advocate for greater government management of the economy.

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