McDonald's Server Would Have To Work 550 Years To Earn CEO's Pay

Tyree Johnson, McDonalds worker

In a stirring Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, Leslie Patton tells the story of one McDonald's employee. His name is Tyree Johnson. The 44-year-old has worked at the fast food chain for two decades, yet still makes just $8.25 an hour, and doesn't get 40 hours a week of work. So Johnson has jobs at two Chicago McDonald's, scrubbing himself down in the bathroom between shifts, because he may be denied a raise if he smells bad. Twice a month he goes to church food pantries to stock up on cereal, soup and powdered milk.

Johnson would have to work for 1.1 million hours to earn the $8.8 million that McDonald's CEO James Skinner was paid last year. If he worked for 40 hours a week, every week of the year, that would take five centuries.

Retail And Fast Food: Fast-Growing Industries
Opportunity is bright, profits are soaring, and the jobs are horribly paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail sales employed 4.5 million Americans in 2010, and fast food restaurants employed 2.1 million. The annual salaries for these jobs are $20,990 and $18,070, respectively. And these are no longer part-time jobs for teenagers; the vast majority of workers are in their 20s and older, and many of them are raising families.

Employers Are Organized To Keep Wages Low
The service industry, unlike manufacturing, has very little history of its workers organizing to demand better pay or hours. Restaurant chains, on the other hand, are very organized at keeping pay down. As Patton points out, restaurant chains and their franchisees spent at least $960,000 to fight minimum-wage increases in six states in 2006.

Income Inequality Widens
Between 1978 and 2011, worker compensation grew by 5.7 percent, according to an analysis by the the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates for lower-wage workers. In the same period, CEO compensation ballooned by 725 percent.

Below is a list of 11 of the biggest fast food and retail chains, along with how long an average low-level employee would need to work to make the amount his or her CEO took home last year. It seems the annual worth of one CEO is now equal to many other human beings' lifetimes.

CEO compensation data are from the companies' most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Average employee salaries are from Glassdoor.com. The number of years it would take an employee to earn the CEO's compensation is based on working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

11. DUNKIN' BRANDS

CEO Nigel Travis' total compensation: $2.0 million

Crew member: $7.83 an hour

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 250,000 hours or 120 years


10. PAPA JOHN'S

CEO John Schnatter's total compensation: $2.7 million.

Average delivery driver salary: $7.19 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 382,000 hours or 184 years.


9. DOLLAR GENERAL

CEO Richard Dreiling's total compensation: $3,832,000.

Average sales associate salary: $7.62 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 503,000 hours or 242 years.


8. BEST BUY

CEO Brian Dunn's total compensation: $7.1 million.

Average sales associate salary: $9.73 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 730,000 hours or 350 years.


7. HOME DEPOT

CEO Francis Blake's total compensation: $10.8 million.

Average sales associate salary: $11.47.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 941,000 hours or 452 years.

6. MCDONALD'S

CEO James Skinner's total compensation: $8.8 million.

Average crew member salary: $7.65 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 1.1 million hours or 550 years.

5. CVS CAREMARK CORPORATION

CEO Larry Merlo's: $11.4.

Average cashier salary: $8.86 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 1.3 million hours or 619 years.


4. WALMART

CEO Michael Duke's total compensation: $18.1 million.

Average sales associate salary: $8.84 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 2.1 million hours or 986 years.

3. WENDY'S

CEO Roland Smith's total compensation: $16.5 million.

Average crew member salary: $7.66 an hour.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 2.2 million hours or 1038 years.

2. TARGET

CEO Gregg Steinhafel's total compensation: $19.7 million..

Sales floor team member: $8.29.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 2.4 million hours or 1,143 years.

1. YUM! BRANDS

CEO David Novak's total compensation: $20.4 million.

Average KFC / Pizza Hut / Taco Bell crew member: $7.50.

How long a crew member would have to work to make CEO annual pay: 2.7 million hours or 1,308 years.


Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Jami Shae Woodard

If someone would just stand up and create a ripple effect....
I worked for mcdonald's and I worked my ass off.
That is a difficult job in which that bastard will never understand.
He is basically the CEO of a modern slave-trade.

Sunday at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nope123

"McDonald's Server Would Have To Work 550 Years To Earn CEO's Pay"...Good. Maybe that will motivate him to move from a minimum wage job.

January 16 2014 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott Zagurskie

It is getting to the point where people are going to have to do something about these C.E.Os pay compared to the worker that make's these huge profits for the companies, the top 1% make up 40% of the U.S. wealth, now I can see them making a more than the workers but not as much as they get, people need to boycott these companies that pay workers minimum wage or a little more and make a huge tax on companies that move to like Mexico or China instead they reward them off the backs of the middle class SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG.

December 14 2013 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
askbingobob

If I was working 20 years for the same company...and I was still earning minimum wage......I would have to reevaluate what I am doing wrong to still be earning minimum wage

December 09 2013 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
camp1nguy

Fast food jobs are not supposed to support families. They are part time work for supplemental income. College graduates typically do not earn $15.00 per hour. Why do they think that just because they exist they DESERVE higher pay. You start your career and work hard for promotions and raises.

July 30 2013 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
McGuffin

Probably the worst compare and contrast piece I have ever read by an Ivy Leaguer. Seriously comparing a person who works part time and goes to school, high school or college, flipping burgers, to a CEO who is in charge of 33,000 restaurants and answering to stock holders. Seriously? Geesh!

April 29 2013 at 9:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to McGuffin's comment
stone.vulgar

Comparing a ZioNazi class inbred infinity greedy wasted sperm pig with a person that actually does work, seriously Geesh.

June 26 2013 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wordwan

Something tells me that all large companies have this problem. The people that work for them are ALLOWING this to continue.

Make a decision. If you aren't getting what you need, find the real answer.

Heather
wordwan

April 17 2013 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bamatxchick

Not everyone of US in the Fast food industry is a LOW LIFE , DROP OUT THAT NEVER WENT TO COLLEGE. IF WE DID WE DIDN'T FINISH CAUSE WE THINK THE WORLD OWES us something. EVER HEARD OF THEM THINGS CALLED HEALTH ISSUES /!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's why I didn't finish college. Not cause I didn't want to or cause I figured somebody owed me something. Because I've got Epilepsy, being a professional student didn't seem like the intellegent thing to do, & you can't get a music degree online. I came home got a job at the Mcdonalds here & am moving up the management ladder. Currently I am Kitchen manager, but I am starting my training for my next promotion. Yes most of my crew is high school kids looking for a temporary job until they graduate. We have a few that attend the local Junior college that work until they transfer to a university. But we have a lot that stay because fast food is all there is in this 1 horse town population 2600. They choose to only be crew, I have been told management is too much for them. DO YA'LL NOT REALIZE THAT NOT ALL OF US ARE CUT OUT FOR COLLEGE?!!! I'm a teacher's kid . When is this country gonna realize that & LAY OFF OF THE FAST FOOD INDUSTRY!!! THANK THE LORD WE HAVE IT!!!!!

April 16 2013 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bamatxchick's comment
wordwan

You're still part of the problem. You help promote a culture that is unhappy for a lot of people who work there. I know. I've done my time in the fast food industry. And I chose to be there. And I wasn't a university student going to school. And I ain't dumb. *grin* And I have eyes. And I saw what was happening. And I quit.

I was just reading about a similar culture in a fulfillment centre for Amazon.com, in the UK, that sounds like it's basically trading one sad industry for another--a lot of the people in that town lost their jobs when the coal mine closed.

Coal mines. Fast food. Fulfillment centres. I don't believe that's the way we are supposed to live. But presently, for a lot of unenlightened people, it's how we do. How sad for us; how terribly sad.

And there are a lot of issues that, one day, it's all gonna blow.

But not right now, I imagine. So enjoy your job. It's what you should do.

Be happy.

Heather
wordwan

April 17 2013 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Darlene

ITS TO BAD WHEN MCDONALD'S HAS A GOOD MANAGER THEY LET THEM GO AFTER 35YR. OF SERVICE WITH A KICK IN THE BUTT...HAVING HAD THE BEST RECORD OF SERVICE THRU THOSE YRS. WHEN THEY HAVE SOMEONE GOOD THEY DESERVE TO GO DOWN THE TUBES WITH COMPLAINTS...

April 16 2013 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Darlene's comment
wordwan

Explain "good" in terms of McDonald's idea of a manager.

The only reason you get fired from a job like that is McDonald's can hire someone to replace you. Someone 'easier' to deal with. It's always about money.

Think about it. And that's the world you help promote.

Do something.

Heather
wordwan

April 17 2013 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robertmb56

Maybe the employee should go out and start their own company.

April 16 2013 at 7:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to robertmb56's comment
stone.vulgar

Maybe The ZioNazi Monetary system monopolizing, war profiteering, infinitely greedy class should go somewhere and start their own country? Uranus, yes UrAnus is a good place for them.

June 26 2013 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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