What does 20 years of service at the restaurant get you? Tyree is one of the few who has the answer -- and it's disturbing.
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 WidensBetween 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.