Paging through the salary listings for top labor leaders reminded me of an idea that Liza Featherstone and I came up with a while back: tie their pay to performance. It’s a scandal that these characters, who’ve presided over years of shrinkage in membership and political power, are nonetheless paid well into the six figures (putting them securely in the 1%, in other words). To take one egregious example, the president of the Laborers Union is paid almost $600,000 even though membership is down almost 30% over the last decade.
So why not cut their pay to, say, two or three times the level of their highest-paid worker (not too radical, really) and then offer bonuses based on wage gains for the membership and genuine expansion in the number of members? Real, organic growth in membership through organizing, that is, and not SEIU-style growth through merger and gimmickry.