Kudos to The Sidney Hillman Foundation for recognizing Leslie Patton with its January Sidney Award. Patton, who covers the fast food beat for Bloomberg News, wrote a hard-hitting story that compares the life of a front-line McDonald’s worker to that of the company’s CEO. Patton paints a vivid picture of how the explosive growth of fast food has generated fat profits for executives and shareholders at the expense of hourly workers, who have been left behind during the economic recovery.
Patton’s article looks at what living life in the fast food lane means to a McDonald’s worker who has worked 20 years as a fry cook. Tyree Johnson earns just $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois. Johnson works at two McDonald’s restaurants in an effort to earn enough money to pay his rent at a single room occupancy hotel. Neither of the restaurants will give him full-time hours. Johnson would have to work over a million hours to earn as much as the company’s last CEO, who took home $8.75 million last year.
Meanwhile, the current CEO of McDonald’s, Don Thompson, a 22-year veteran of the company who has roots near the Chicago housing project where Johnson grew up, has access to a private plane and investment counseling as part of his compensation package. He also purchased two condos in an upscale Chicago neighborhood for $3.3 million.
The health consequences of eating a fast food diet are well documented. Patton’s article sheds light on the socio-economic impact of fast food jobs – one of the largest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.