Small Maryland School Quietly Moves Against Inequality

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Photo via South MD News
Photo via South MD Newsin

Inequality is on the rise in the United States, as you might have heard; CEOs now make 354 times (!) as much as the average worker in the U.S.. At some companies the ratio is much worse — at JC Penny, the former CEO made 1,795 (!!!) times as much as his department store workers. It hasn’t always been this way; in 1950, CEOs made only 20 times as much as their workers.

When faced with numbers like that, it’s easy to just throw up your hands and assume rampant inequality must be inevitable. But that’s why this new proposal by students and faculty at St. Mary’s College is so inspiring: They want to cap the salary of the school’s highest-paid employee to ten times that of its lowest-paid employee.

According to the proposal, that would mean several things: Firstly, raising the school’s lowest annual salary from $24,500 to $30,000; secondly, cutting the salary of the school’s top earner (the president) from $325,000 to $300,000. That sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?

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The campaign notes that over the past 14 years, the president and vice presidents have seen their salaries go up 91 percent, while lowest-paid employees saw salaries rise by 56 percent. (Professors actually had it worst – their salaries increased by only 22 percent over the same period, a rate that’s less than inflation.)

via St. Mary's Wages campaign
via St. Mary’s Wages campaign

Advocates of the proposal also point out that the wild growth of tuition may happen in part because of this rapid rise in salaries — in other words, costs are being passed off to students and their families.

The proposal will go in front of the school’s faculty senate on Thursday.

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