The "Executive Paywatch" site, which launched in time for proxy season last April, drew attention from stockholders and rank-and-file workers, as well as companies and labor union officials. It listed the pay of CEOs at companies such as Apple Computer, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Lucent Technologies, and the Walt Disney Company.
"We received more than 4.6 million hits" on the site, said Chris Boner, a research analyst with the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. Like others, the AFL-CIO chose the Web as its forum because it is a low-cost way to reach millions of people. The information on the site is provided free of charge.
The AFL-CIO's union membership has been declining, and Web sites such as "Executive Paywatch" can be an effective way to rally workers. Boner said the site also has attracted the attention of "middle managers who have been downsized" from big companies.
Although executive compensation continues to rise (faster than corporate profits and factory-worker wages, according to the AFL-CIO), the Web site has helped solidify support for reforms, either through legislation or proxy resolutions, according to union officials.
The site urges Netizens to take action. It shows them how to "send a message to the board of directors, stage a workplace action, or email Congress."
For their part, some companies said the information provided on the site last year was inaccurate. The union said the information is based on public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.