More U.S. chief executives got pay raises than had their pay cut in 2008, a year when billions in taxpayer dollars went to prop up struggling companies and millions of workers lost jobs, according to an AFL-CIO survey released on Tuesday.
Wall Street pay has been heavily scrutinized in the past year, especially for executives at major financial firms getting funds under the government's Troubled Asset Recovery Program, aimed to keeping troubled banks afloat and keeping the banking system sound.
The executive pay study of major companies by the AFL-CIO, the country's largest labor federation, calculated compensation that included stock options granted to CEOs but not yet vested.
Some governance experts favor this method, which is intended to take into account the intent of corporate boards.
Using that methodology, Citigroup Inc CEO Vikram Pandit made $38 million in 2008, compared with the roughly $11 million reported in the company's compensation section in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Citigroup collected $45 billion in government bailout funds in 2008.
When it comes to CEO pay, many companies continue to hew to the fiction of pay for performance, said Daniel Pedrotty, director of the AFL-CIO's Office of Investment.
The survey used data from 946 companies in the Russell 3000 index with 2008 information available. Of those, 480 executives got pay raises, while 463 had pay cuts.
The median CEO salary rose 7 percent in 2008. CEO perks at the companies surveyed also went up, nearly 13 percent to an average value of $336,246, according to the survey.
Of CEOs whose compensation increased, the average was $5.4 million, including salary, bonuses and stock options. The average compensation of those who got pay cuts was about $3.9 million.
The AFL-CIO, which represents about 11 million workers in the United States, used publicly reported data with help from the Corporate Library, an independent research group, to compile the survey.
It hopes the survey will rally its members to contact Congress members to push for greater oversight of financial institutions, an issue Congress is debating.
The database breaks out compensation to financial institutions getting TARP funds and also by industry.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)