Walmart is firing back at criticism leveled by the AFL-CIO in its annual Executive Paywatch report.
The report came out Wednesday, and estimated that CEOs in companies listed on the S&P 500 Index earn 374 times that the pay of their workers. The report aims to highlight stagnant wages, and the union said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon last year received almost $19.4 million in total compensation_ about 536 times the U.S. average rank-and-file worker's pay.
“The comparison … is not apples to apples and did not take into account that Mr. McMillon’s compensation … will only be realized over three years if the company meets performance goals aligned with our key financial priorities,” said Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman. “The vast majority of his compensation is contingent on the company’s performance.”
McMillon’s base salary amounts to about 7 percent of his target for total compensation, and more than 75 percent of his target is tied to company performance goals, the spokesman said, adding that for the past three years Walmart failed to meet ambitious targets and it resulted in less compensation for executives.
Walmart is a frequent target of critics who claim that, because of its presence across much of the nation, it on its own has a dampening effect on all low-wage workers.
“In April we raised the minimum starting (floor) wage for all hourly U.S. associates to at $9/hour. By February 2016, the minimum starting wage will be $10 or higher,” Hargrove said, adding the company provides workers an upward path.
“Mr. McMillon is example of the opportunity we provide to associates to learn, advance in the company and establish a career,” the spokesman said. “He started as an hourly associate in one of our distribution centers 30 years ago. He worked his way up, just as other associates are doing now.”
The issue of stagnant wages and a widening income gap are already emerging as issues for the 2016 presidential campaign, and Walmart’s recent wage-hike announcement has been mirrored by McDonald’s, Target and other large companies.