I've worked in and around corporations since the 1990's and I think this is very likely. Corporate managers are very good at rationalizing their greed and elitism.
I worked as a temp, admin, and in other support positions. A good example is one I saw in the 1990's - A rich investment bank who paid its receptionist 18k while its executives got millions. Another such company offered me 5k less than I made as a temp - but with good benefits. Good benefits was and is a way to take financial advantage of single mothers, who need the benefits for their children.
Another example I saw more than once was when management made decisions that would obviously cause the company to lose customers but would not acknowledge what they were doing - then when the company had gone down, they laid off workers. I suppose they were trying to make the company easier to sell or something.
I was never ok with any of this and eventually worked my way up to a decent job with a fair wage. When I stood up to insulting offers or continued to look for a job with fair pay, management shook its head at me and said I had a bad attitude.
Unfortunately the American way is to take advantage of the non-elite. Not all of it is racial, maybe none of it is. I'm white and I've been treated just as badly by the elites as non-whites.
Part of the problem is that workers accept being treated this way. The educational and social system pressures us to accept being treated like this, but as individuals we can choose not to accept it and keep trying until we find a good way to make a living. Once we rise to a certain level, the same elites that treated us like trash will respect us as "go-getters", "entrepreneurs", "experts", etc. and be willing to work with us instead of taking advantage of us. The thing to remember about elites is, the only thing they respect is power. They have no inherent respect, appreciation or compassion for people as people.
They may be trying to make the excuse that they don't know what the fair market value of the position is, but that won't fly. Even before the internet, research and studies were available. Now they should be able to find that information easily online.
Another common excuse is that their profits are down and they "can't" pay a fair wage. And the same executive who is saying this has money to support his homemaker wife and four children, with whom he lives in a rich suburb and takes on four vacations each year. No, there's no way he could skip a raise or take a salary cut, could he? Management uses the "can't pay" excuse whenever the economy is not booming.
If all the skilled workers end up accepting lower wages, the market value of the positions will go down. The elites may be trying to make this happen. Of course, they shouldn't be allowed to! Workers should hold out for a fair wage and if they do have to accept a lower-wage job, keep looking for a better one. That worked for me. :-)