Fast food workers in New York City briefly walked off the job last month to protest the low wages endemic to their industry. Over the last several years, fast food companies — most prominently McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell — have reaped huge profits while employing some of the largest numbers of low-wage workers in the country.
At the same time that they’re paying their workers bottom-of-the-barrel wages, these companies give huge salaries to their CEOs. Case in point, McDonald’s CEO made $8.75 million last year, while an average McDonald’s employee would need to work more than one million hours to amass such a sum, as Bloomberg News noted today:
The pay gap separating fast-food workers from their chief executive officers is growing at each of those companies. The disparity has doubled at McDonald’s Corp. in the last 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, the company helped pay for lobbying against minimum-wage increases and sought to quash the kind of unionization efforts that erupted recently on the streets of Chicago and New York. [...]
[A McDonald's employee] would need about a million hours of work — or more than a century on the clock — to earn the $8.75 million that McDonald’s, based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, paid then- CEO Jim Skinner last year.
About one in four Americans will be working in a low-wage job over the next decade. And low wages don’t just hurt workers: they hurt those workers’ children too, as a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed.
Meanwhile, chief executives at the 50 companies employing the largest number of low-wage workers made an average of $9.4 million last year. CEOs now make an average of 380 times as much as the average worker.