McDonald's pay chasm: $8.25/hour to $8.75 million/year

The CEO makes almost 600 times as much as one Chicago worker


Alex Halperin
December 13, 2012 12:17AM (UTC)

Bloomberg has an article today highlighting the pay gap at McDonald's. The whole piece is worth a read but the beginning is particularly striking. It highlights Chicago man Tyree Johnson, who holds positions at two different McDonald's. Between shifts he has to give himself a quick scrubbing in one of the restaurant's bathrooms because he can't even show up for work at a McDonald's smelling like a McDonald's.

“I hate when my boss tells me she won’t give me a raise because she can smell me,” he said.

Johnson, 44, needs the two paychecks to pay rent for his apartment at a single-room occupancy hotel on the city’s north side. While he’s worked at McDonald’s stores for two decades, he still doesn’t get 40 hours a week and makes $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois.

This is life in one of America’s premier growth industries. Fast-food restaurants have added positions more than twice as fast as the U.S. average during the recovery that began in June 2009.

Johnson's circumstances look particularly grim when they're compared, as Bloomberg does, to the compensation enjoyed by executives whose pay gives a whole new meaning to "McJob."

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Johnson 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.

... Twenty years ago, when Johnson first started at McDonald’s, the CEO’s compensation was about 230 times that of a full-time worker paid the federal minimum wage. The $8.75 million that Thompson’s predecessor as CEO, Skinner, made last year was 580 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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