Senator Bernie Sanders live streamed #CEOsvsWorkers, an event where former employees of multinational corporations shared stories of their low wages and stressful working conditions with the audience.
WikiTribune will fact check claims made by the Sanders team on his Twitter account. Help find sources for these claims and verify whether each claim is true, mostly true, mostly false or false.
Claim 1: McDonald’s gave its CEO a 42% raise last year, while it reneged on a commitment to pay at least $1 an hour above the local minimum wage to its low wage workers.
McDonald’s gave its CEO a 42% raise last year, while it reneged on a commitment it made to pay at least $1 an hour above the local minimum wage to its low wage workers. #CEOsvsWorkers
Fact Check 1:
Mostly true. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was given a 42% raise in 2017 (Restaurant Business Online). McDonald’s adhered to its pledge to pay at least $1 an hour above the local minimum wage in 2015, but then stopped, saying the policy was a one time commitment only (Fortune).
Claim 2: Last year, Amazon reported nearly $5.6 billion in U.S. profits and did not pay a penny of federal income taxes on it.
Last year, Amazon reported nearly $5.6 billion in U.S. profits and did not pay a penny of federal income taxes on it. #CEOsvsWorkers
Fact check 2:
True. Amazon earned $5.6 billion in 2017, but paid no federal taxes on this profit (Fox News). The company will also likely receive a large one-time rebate, another benefit of the 2017 Tax Act (Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy).
Claim 3: Disney’s CEO makes up to $423 million… But one in 10 Disneyland workers have been homeless in the past two years… More than two thirds are food insecure… three out of four workers don’t make enough money to afford basic needs.
While Disney’s CEO makes up to $423 million: – 1 in 10 Disneyland workers have been homeless in the past 2 years – More than 2 in 3 are food insecure – 3 in 4 don’t make enough money to afford basic needs That is simply not acceptable. #CEOsvsWorkers
Fact check 3:
Mostly True. Disney’s CEO Robert Iger made $36.3 million in the 2017 fiscal year, but the company’s shareholders voted against a plan to raise his salary to $48.5 million over the next four years. So, while it appears it should have been $42.3 million, this would be referring to his compensation in the 2016 fiscal year which was actually $43.9 million.
The three additional statements are all based on a union-funded survey, published earlier this year, which found that 10 percent of Disneyland Resort employees reported being “homeless – or not having a place of their own place to sleep – in the past two years,” and 68 percent reported food insecurity.
However, it is not clear how Sanders’ final conclusion was arrived at. In the survey, among the families that pay for child care, 80 percent of those said they “cannot make ends meet at the end of the month” and 79 percent said they were food insecure.
Claim 4: The average cashier at McDonald’s would have to work for 895 years to make what the company’s CEO makes in one year.
The average cashier at McDonald’s would have to work for 895 years to make what the company’s CEO makes in one year. That is simply immoral. https://t.co/IgPAwh5LjC
Fact check 4:
Mostly True. Senator Sanders appears to have made this claim based on compensation data from McDonald’s in 2016 and 2017. Easterbrook received $15.4 million in compensation in 2016, according to Business Insider. The average McDonald’s cashier made $8.61 per hour over 2,000 working hours in 2017, based on data from Indeed. So, for a cashier working a full-time 40 hour work week, it would take approximately 894.3 years to make $15.4 million dollars.
But, the pay disparity has actually gotten worse since that time. According to Glassdoor.com the current median salary for a McDonald’s cashier in America is $21,803, and according to Skift the McDonald’s CEO’s current full annual compensation is over $21.7 million. That puts Sanders’ estimates pretty close to the mark, but actually under by about 100 years. But, even that doesn’t show the full picture. As, according to the information provided by the SEC, CapitalIQ and compiled by Skift, the story for most workers at McDonald’s shows an even worse pay disparity. According to their numbers, the median annual compensation for an employee of McDonald’s is approximately $7,017. That would mean it would take a median employee working for McDonald’s over 3,101 years to receive the $21,761,052 their CEO, Steve Easterbrook, receives each year.
Claim 5: Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, made more than $22 million in compensation lsat (sic) year—or almost $11,000 an hour.
Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, made more than $22 million in compensation lsat year-or almost $11,000 an hour. #CEOsvsWorkers
Fact Check 5:
True. McMillon made nearly $22.2 in compensation, almost three quarters of it consisting of stock awards and $6 million in cash, mostly in bonuses (Salary.com). This works out to approximately $11,000 an hour using 2,000 working hours in 2017.
Claim 6: The Walton Family of Walmart owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans. Meanwhile 55% of Walmart’s associates are food insecure.
The Walton Family of Walmart owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans. Meanwhile 55% of Walmart’s associates are food insecure. #CEOsvsWorkers
Fact Check 6:
Partly True – (lacks context and data). Seven Walton heirs own a total worth of $174.2 billion, making them the wealthiest family in the U.S (Forbes).
However, the bottom 40 percent of Americans have more debt than assets combined, leaving them with a negative net worth.
As for food insecurity, it is not clear how Sanders arrived at this calculation or from what source. Food insecurity is not clearly defined instead provided as a range by the USDA and no study has actually been conducted to determine how many Walmart employees might suffer from food insecurity.
The 55 percent figure was also cited by United4Respect, an advocacy group led by former and current Walmart workers, in a tweet on May 20 2018. WikiTribune sent a request for comment from United4Respect on July 28.
Walmart did recently raise its minimum level of pay to $11 an hour, but that leaves many workers below the federal poverty line (Global Citizen). Workers with four or more family members with no other wage earners even with a full-time schedule the household would still be below the federal poverty level (FPL).