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We Can't Survive On $7.25!

On average, CEOs of fast food restaurant chains make $25,000 every day. That’s more than twice what fast food workers who are given New York state’s minimum wage make in an entire year. In the same time that CEOs make $25,000, workers in their restaurants bring in just $56.

Fast Food Forward is paying attention. “While fast food corporations reap the benefits of record profits, workers are barely getting by – many are forced to be on public assistance despite having a job,” the organization observes. Fast Food Forward is doing more than just talking, though. The group is working to organize workers in fast food restaurants, bringing their voices together so that they can obtain an income that’s closer to what they deserve.

Don’t you think the CEOs can afford it?

6 comments to We Can't Survive On $7.25!

  • Dave

    McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner made 17 million last year; 1.4 million in salary, 11.5 million in performance bonuses, and the rest came from stock options.

    Let’s take his pay and divide it among all of McDonald’s 1.7 million employees. So that’s ten dollars per year that each employee would get, or about .006 cents per hour.

    • Bill

      You may have missed the point, Dave. Peregrin wasn’t talking about taking CEOs’ pay away from them. He was talking about paying the workers, whose labor actually earns the money that pays the CEO, a living wage.

      From 2008 to 2011, McDonalds sales rose 13% according to the NY Times. Over that same interval, its share price rose 73%. Meanwhile, the Federal minimum wage (to which most McDonald’s laborers’ wages are pinned) rose just 4% when expressed in constant dollars.

      Now, I’m as big a fan of properly regulated capitalism as the next guy (and probably rather more than most folks at Irregular Times), and that’s one of the reasons why these trends concern me. It is simply obvious that when investors, owners, and senior executives (collectively, ‘capitalists’) hoover up an ever larger share of our economic gains while tossing an ever-shrinking fraction to labor, then sooner or later heads will roll…literally. Never mind a sense of fairness, or a desire to see American families, and thus American society, grow stronger, not weaker, with time; I’ve known too many sociopathic capitalists in my time to hope that such warm fuzzy considerations might actually concern them. But if they wish their financial strategies to be sustainable, then they need to share the good times with labor. If they don’t, then they’re idiots. And guess what? Yup; they’re idiots.

      • Dave

        Bill, I really don’t care to defend McDonalds or their CEO as I am sure they can fend for themselves. I think you’re quite right about the sociopathic tendencies of some businesspeople, though most of the ones I’ve known personally have been small business and pretty good neighbors.

        Readers were asked if we think fast food CEOs can afford to pay workers an income that’s closer to what they deserve. Where does one start?
        If McDonalds charges $12.00 for coffee and $27.50 for a happy meal then by all means they could afford to pay more. Otherwise, it comes out of Jim Skinner’s earnings. Their gross receipts are paid out to payroll (their largest expense), cost of goods sold, utilities, in many cases leasing agreements, franchise expenses, various types of insurance, taxes and the remainder, the profit, goes to stockholders. (Quite sure you know all this, but there’s the rub for many folks at Irregular Times – the stockholders). Being publicly traded, fast food stock is liable to be in the retirement portfolios of working people upon whom retirement is bearing down like a speeding train.

        Certain businesses can pay a “living wage” and others were never meant to. No one seriously considers putting pickles on a bun to be lifetime employment. I have done it in the past and while it suited the purpose at the time, I never expected to buy a house and raise a family doing it. It’s great for students, kids still living at home, part-time supplemental income and the like, but organising for more pay would be irrelevant to young people who are on their way up in the world.

        Those who are not going anywhere would find themselves paying union dues to organisers who will claim to get them a nickel or a dime now and then, and keep them convinced that all they have to do is maintain the “struggle” until they are compensated fairly. Meanwhile the Fed will inflate the currency and continue to destroy the buying power of the money the workers are being paid and the “struggle” will continue forever. Organising is nice work if you can get it, but I think organisers are a pretty sociopathic bunch too, taking advantage of workers in a more cynical way than do capitalists.

  • Bill

    I think I see the problem, Dave. You are describing a world that does not actually exist. To wit:

    1. “…McDonalds 1.7 million employees….. MDC’s 2012 annual report states “The Company’s number of employees worldwide, including Company-operated restaurant employees, was approximately 440,000 as of year-end 2012.”

    2. “…the remainder, the profit, goes to stockholders….” That same annual report shows that McDonalds’ 2012 income per share was $5.36, while its dividend per share was $2.87. That is, only about half its profit goes to shareholders. The remainder, retained earnings, equalled $2.7 billion in 2012. To use your own argument, if it used that $2.7 billion to pay its 440,000 employees a living wage, that would be an additional $6,136 in each employee’s pocket. A full-time employee working at minimum wage grosses about $14,000 per year, so that would mean a 44% raise. And not a penny of it would have to come out of the CEO’s salary.

    3. “Certain businesses can pay a “living wage” and others were never meant to. No one seriously considers putting pickles on a bun to be lifetime employment.” Is there a difference between putting pickles on buns and puttling boxes on shelves? Costco manages to pay its employees well for doing just that, while paying its shareholders a nice (albeit smaller than McDonalds) dividend. A business that can’t or won’t pay a living wage…but still manages to turn a handsome profit…is exploiting human misery and desperation. I don’t believe this was “meant to be.”

    4. “…organising for more pay would be irrelevant to young people who are on their way up in the world….” The world you are describing no longer exists. Because the economic deck is so thoroughly stacked against them, the vast majority of young people today are not “on their way up.” They’re on their way sideways, or down. You’re describing your youth, not theirs. And anyway, a McDonalds patron nowadays is as likely as not to be served by blue-haired old lady who can’t afford a secure retirement.

    • Bill

      Oops…I forgot #5: “…the Fed will inflate the currency and continue to destroy the buying power of the money….” Good lord man, what the heck are you talking about? You’re aware, I hope, that the inflation rate, as measured by the CPI-U, has been at historically low levels since about 1997, right? And that it is currently 1.7%? This Republican meme that the Fed is destroying the economy is a fantasy with absolutely zero basis in fact.

      • Dave

        “Heads will roll.” Sounds French. I got the 1.7 million figure from Wikipedia, God bless their pea pickin’ hearts.

        Bill, you had me giving a nod to your tempering and thoughtful re-rendering of my stated views until you got to #5. Republicans are not the least concerned about having a stable dollar! Fiscal conservatives, however, understand that even talking about an inflation rate, whether one considers it low or high, means that everyone gets paid in “dollars” that will not be worth tomorrow what they are worth today.

        Dollars valued on a sliding scale perpetuate the schemes of organisers who take advantage of people’s need for wages that keep pace with inflation. As I said, it’s good work if you can get it.

        Rather than herding what some consider to be a permanent underclass into organising for peanuts, what I would really like to see more of is companies that are employee owned. One such, a grocery chain in Florida, is consistently in someone’s top 10 or 20 companies to work for. Not publicly traded, the employees are well paid in cash and company stock, earning dividends, and, when they leave, the company has to buy back the stock the employee holds, thus giving the now former employee a great retirement.
        Retained earnings serve the usual function of growing the organisation, thus making room for even more people who want to be happy in their work.

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