May 22 - Despite protests, McDonald's shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of approving executive pay at the fast food chain, where CEO Don Thompson took home $9.5 million in total compensation last year. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The protesters were out- demanding higher wages for front line workers at McDonald's- but shareholders still voted overwhelmingly to approve the CEO pay package at the company. Korn Ferry Executive Chairman, Americas, Bob Damon: SOUNDBITE: ROBERT DAMON, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AMERICAS, KORN FERRY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The message is that those shareholders realize that looking at the absolute number of a CEO's compensation is not really the issue." He says there aren't enough CEO's to go around- and it's worth paying up to get top talent: SOUNDBITE: ROBERT DAMON, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AMERICAS, KORN FERRY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The boards of public companies as well as, you know, the private equity firms who own a lot of companies have realized over the last five or six years that the difference between an "A" CEO and a "B" CEO is significant and can drive significant shareholder value. So again that exacerbates the demand for a talent." McDonald's CEO Don Thompson took home total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013. McDonald's won't say what its average worker makes- but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average fast food worker makes $8.83 an hour- about $18,000 a year. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who controls New York City's pension fund- voted their 2.6 million shares against the measure. SOUNDBITE: SCOTT STRINGER, NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The bottom line for me is- how do I grow the New York City pension fund? And we look at corporations like McDonald's, and we blow the whistle, and say why does the CEO have an excessive pay package while there is low morale among workers, workers are paid minimum wage and you can see that that company is not growing in a way that makes you want to invest." Earlier this month, a similar vote on pay at Chipotle, whose top two executives make about $50 million was shot down- with 77 percent voting against the pay package. The CEO to worker pay ratio in the fast food industry was more than 1,000-to-1 last year, according to Demos. For workers, it's also the lowest paid occupation, they say. In the case of McDonald's- the company is losing market share to U.S. rivals, and is also facing higher costs for things like beef. Not to mention criticism from parents and public health experts over its food and advertising. SOUNDBITE: SCOTT STRINGER, NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "My problem with McDonald's is not just the pay, the excessive pay package, but they have actually moved the goal post. They are actually asking the CEO to perform- they moved the goal post so now they are being asked not to do as well as they did the year before, and I'm worried that they are not taking performance to the next level." But Damon warns not to be too shortsighted: SOUNDBITE: ROBERT DAMON, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AMERICAS, KORN FERRY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "When you look at McDonald's in a long term perspective, they are one of the top performing blue chip food services companies around the globe. You know, they deliver consistent quality. They have a great management team. So I think when you look at the long term it's been a very successful company." Damon adds that he believes CEO pay will continue to rise.