The shareholders of Citigroup, one of the biggest financial organizations in the world, recently expressed a vote of no confidence on CEO Vikram Pandit’s $15 million dollar pay package.

With that vote, shareholders recognized something that working people have known for years – CEO compensation has reached embarrassing levels.

In 1980, CEOs of large U.S. companies made 42 times the average wages of workers.

In 2011, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay had widened to an astonishing 380 times.

And while the top 1 percent are seeing their pay skyrocket, – CEOs of S&P 500 companies last year received an average increase of 14 percent in pay – 51,307 Mainers are still seeking steady employment.

The average income for working families in our state is only $40,190, and wages are barely keeping up with inflation.

When the economy took a turn for the worse a few years ago, we the public bailed out big corporations, which turned around and rewarded their CEOs and executives responsible for the crisis with fat bonuses.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of workers across the country lost their jobs.

Not since the Great Depression have we seen this level of income inequality between those in the executive suite and those on the shop floor.

This income inequality is smothering our economy.

We know that to spur economic growth and job creation, workers need money in their pockets.

When average wages are going down and the money is in the hands of a few, the economy stalls.

We have a healthier, stronger economy when workers are well compensated for their hard work.

When nurses, shipbuilders, paper makers, teachers, firefighters, electricians and all workers have good wages and can spend money, more jobs will be created in our local economy.

That’s good for everybody.

We all work hard and we work best when we work together.

Success is the result of cooperative efforts of many people.

No one, including CEOs, could be successful without relying on others.

Everybody in a company works as a member of a team to create value for that company and contribute to the overall success.

There is no justification for one person to earn 380 times that of the average worker.

We need rules that put out-of-control CEO pay in check.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted by President Obama is an important element of a larger effort to restore balance to out-of-line CEO compensation.

One of its provisions gives shareholders of a company the ability to cast a “say-on-pay” vote.

So far this year, shareholders at five companies, including Citigroup, have voted against CEO pay packages during the 2012 annual meeting season.

But even as more shareholders use “say-on-pay” to rein in executive pay packages, there is still much more work that needs to be done to address this issue head-on.

It’s time for the Securities and Exchange Commission to implement another key piece of the Dodd-Frank Act — a requirement that public companies disclose their ratio of CEO-to-worker pay.

This is a simple and easy way to encourage companies to consider CEO pay in the context of their entire work force and restrain the level of CEO pay.

If a CEO is treated to a windfall after a profitable year, there is no good reason for others at the same company to be left in the dust with minimal raises or no raises at all.

Companies can no longer use the excuse of a bad econ-omy for layoffs and cuts when they give out 14 percent pay increases to the CEO, and hoard record amounts of cash that should go toward creating more jobs, and getting the overall economy back on track.

Ultimately, the economic prosperity of our country is a shared effort and it should be a shared reward.

The priority of elected leaders and business leaders in Maine and across the country should be to restore balance to our economy.

Addressing runaway CEO pay is one key way to begin to do that.

– Special to the Press Herald