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Disney’s CEO Makes $248 a Minute as Some of His Employees Go Homeless on $8.03 an Hour

| July 1, 2015

timon disney iger ceo pay

Timon thinks himself the brainiest of the bunch. (© FlaglerLive)

By Scott Klinger

Florida’s Disney World bills itself “the happiest place on Earth.” But last year, some Disney World employees made so little they becamehomeless.

Meanwhile, Disney paid CEO Robert Iger $46.5 million. That amounts to a stunning $248 a minute if he works 60 hours a week. It’s over 2,200 times the median pay of the workers he employs to welcome guests, operate rides, sell food, and clean his theme parks, according to economist Dean Baker.

Iger rakes in the price of a single-day pass to the main park every 25 seconds. His lowest-paid workers, meanwhile, can’t afford the cost of entry after a full day’s work. Ride operators and park cleaners would need to work full time for nearly six days to afford a single day’s park admission for a family of four.

Even after a raise to $10 an hour they negotiated for next year, Disney employees can only expect to take home about $20,000 over the course of a year. It’s hard to live on that kind of pay in Orlando, where one-bedroom apartments average $822 a month.

Across the country, tens of thousands of low-wage workers have participated in strikes calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. A major target has been Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer.

other words columnsLike Disney, Wal-Mart has responded to pressure by announcing modest wage increases for its lowest-paid workers. Since April, all Wal-Mart employees have earned $9 an hour. Early next year, a $10-an-hour minimum will kick in.

Yet Wal-Mart’s new CEO, C. Douglas McMillon, raked in over $19 million last year. He made as much in one minute as entry-level Wal-Mart workers made in a day and a half.

Wal-Mart’s also provided McMillon with a retirement account worth $65.7 million. If he retired today, he’d get a monthly check for $361,230 for the rest of his life. A low-wage Wal-Mart worker would have to work full-time nearly 20 years to earn that.

But the winner of the Holy Guacamole pay award goes to Chipotle’s co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran. The company touts itself as a pay leader in the fast-food industry, but its average starting wage is only about $9 an hour. Ells and Moran together pulled in $305 a minute last year.

These are just a few examples of highly profitable companies that pay their CEOs millions while forcing workers to rely on public assistance and private charities. Ten bucks an hour is sure better than the current federal minimum of $7.25, but it’s nowhere near enough to live on or support a family.

Legislation called the Raise the Wage Act would increase the federal minimum to $12 an hour by 2020. This would directly benefit more than 37 million American workers. It’s good for the rest of us, too.

More people with money in their pockets means businesses will sell more stuff. It encourages new job growth to satisfy increased demand. And the government will spend less to help low-wage workers pay for food and housing, so our tax dollars can be invested in education and repairing roads, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure — creating more jobs and a better quality of life for all of us.

Raising wages alone won’t turn America into the happiest place on earth, but it’s an important step toward creating an economy that works for us all.

scott-klingerScott Klinger is the director of revenue and spending policies at the Center for Effective Government in Washington. Previously, he was the Tax Policy Director at the American Sustainable Business Council and an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he wrote about issues of tax and economic inequality.

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29 Responses for “Disney’s CEO Makes $248 a Minute as Some of His Employees Go Homeless on $8.03 an Hour”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Wage disparities throughout America are insane and, under conservative pressure, widening. We’re looking more and more like the Middle East where royal families build 500-ft. custom yachts and poverty reigns for a large portion of the populace. If we don’t deal with this injustice, one of these days we’re going to have a well-deserved revolution.

    • Anon says:

      Please stop the conservative-bashing. And the same goes for liberal-bashing. This has nothing to do with politics. What are the Dems doing about it? Nothing. Many CEOs support the Dems. These parties and leaders don’t care about us. Wake up. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.

      • Knightwatch says:

        Sorry, Anon. The wealth gap is a conservative thing. Who do you think invented “supply side/trickle-down economics”? Who do you think voted unanimously against the stimulous plan that pumped money into middle class jobs? Who voted against the bailout of GM, a stimulous that is estimated to have saved one million middle class jobs? Who fought to keep alive Bush 43’s “temporary” tax break for the wealthy? Who’s agenda includes the elimination of inheritance taxes? Who is attacking the Affordable Care Act that’s reducing cost creep for middle and low income people? Who do you think consistently votes against an increase in the minimum wage? Who’s aggressively fighting to eliminate or at least impede the unions that helped build the middle class?

        Your conservative compatriots created the wealth gap and, against your own interests and those of middle and low income citizens, you conservatives are fighting tooth and nail to keep and even increase the gap.
        There will be an economic revolution, so better close the blinds, stuff your mattrass with your cash and hold onto your gun(s).

        • Jim O says:

          Dear Knightwatch…. You are drinking a gallon of koolaid. Slow down or you will have to use the “really affordable health care” system we have in place…
          Nice name… maybe good night is better.

  2. Sadie S says:

    Oh what a bunch of bull.

    • Knightwatch says:

      O.k., Sadie, show me the bull. Show me where conservatives, in charge of the House since 2010 and the Senate since 2012, have sponsored legislation or any programs that benifit low and middle wage earners. Tell me how my post above is wrong and conservatives didn’t do what I claim. Explain to me why conservative economic policies benefit everyone. Double dare you!

  3. Livesinflaglercounty says:

    I have said this before and will always say this, Walt Disney is rolling over in his grave. This is not what he wanted for disney world to be. He wanted families to be together and have a nice day together having fun. It’s sad that profit has gotten so imoortant to the disney company over the joy of families. I have a five year old and a three year old and have not taken my children to any of the parks, just to expensive. And we live right here, no need for a hotel or airfare. Couldn’t imagine what other families do when they to fly in…..

  4. TeddyBallGame says:

    The biggest welfare queens are the multi-billion dollar businesses that don’t pay their workers enough to live on. Instead the taxpayers have to augment these businesses payroll so their employees have someplace to live and pay their everyday life expenses. Without these taxpayer subsidies the employees would not be able to live and show up ready for work and without these low wages these companies could not pay senior management so extravagantly well. FLASH!! The majority of people receiving food stamps or housing assistance or any other kind of govt. aid are people that are employed full time!!! Wake up idiots! (Teabagers and other morally impaired persons exempt).

  5. Sherry E says:

    Ahhhh. . . The reality of Reaganomics “trickle down” BS all these years later! The 1% grows even more wealthy, while everyone else struggles. When, oh when will our voters begin to understand that “cutting taxes” mostly benefits the wealthy? When will they begin to understand that most wealthy people could care less about the average person, and actually sees them as servants or blood sucking fleas. . . no more than that.

    Meanwhile the middle class that makes our country great is vanishing before our eyes. Income Disparity/American Greed, Manipulation by the Media, and the divisiveness of Bigotry and Hatred of Fellow Citizens is destroying our country from within!

    We need to rise up and come together as hard working voters of every color and take our country back, while our vote still has some power. . . while the media has not yet controlled us completely.

  6. groot says:

    For what they charge to get into that tourist trap I really thought those were good paying jobs. That whole area is an eyesore. Tourist trap after tourist trap as far as the eye can see. Been there, I have never liked it, prefer the natural Florida. But, I thought good for the community for the jobs it provided. Apparently, trickle down is alive and well in the plastic world Disney.

  7. Lancer says:

    Right, Sherry…how does “trickle up” economics work? How many poor people ever provided YOU a job? The financial and economic ignorance is strong here.

    The hypocrisy of the left regarding this matter is ridiculous. When’s Flaglerlive going to report on the Clinton Millions made on the backs of taxpayers? Answer…NEVER. Don’t worry, though, Chelsea will still live in her $10.5 million penthouse overlooking Central Park…she worked so very hard to get it…and still be married to her hedge fund sweety. The Clinton Foundation will still bring in millions and provide 15% to “actual” charities. How much will Hillary sell more of our natural resources for when she’s president? Will they steal more stuff from the White House when they leave?

    Sherry, for example, loved to tout of Hillary’s resume. Well, Sherry, why not pull up Bob Iger’s resume? Seems he’s checked all the boxes to be successful.
    Want to know what it takes to be financially successful? Looking at Iger’s resume…it’s one of sacrifice.

    Do you, seriously, believe being a CEO of a major corporation is easy? What Iger makes is, strictly, up to its shareholders. If he makes decisions that make his shareholders, the owners of the company, money he should rewarded.

    The wealth envy in this country by the left is hilarious. Unless, of course, you’re one of them. Actually, Iger is one of them. Which makes it quite entertaining watching them feast on their own.

    Stay in the entertainment section, leftists, not in reality. Don’t look at how your monetary policy, based on Keynes and bailouts, is a failure and has caused inflation and weakened our currency. Ignore the fact that we’ve created 80+ entitlement programs, spent over $22 trillion and still have the same poverty rate as we did in 1967. Complain over “flags”, just don’t look at our stagnant GDP (nor what percentage government spending is of it), our massive debt (under 0bama it will go from 10 trillion to 20 trillion when he leaves office), policies that have resulted in the slowest economic recovery in history and refusing to look at the massive expense unfunded liabilities are going to have.

    The left can’t understand a calculator or a balance sheet. They’re to interested in “games” and labeling the right as: mean, sexist, racist, religious zealot, homophobes. The left’s idea of “help” is taking money from people who earn it, through threat of force, and giving it to another, who didn’t earn it, for a vote.

    Ol’ Ben Franklin was right when he said,”We have a Republic, if you can keep it”. We turned the greatest country in the history of the world into a democracy, nothing more than mob rule, led by emotion. Nothing says it more than this “article”.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is kind of a trickle up when low-income full time workers have more income, and while you’re right that there is a balance, there is a need to have people to adequately afford basic living as well as a few modest conveniences of life when the work full time.

      There aren’t that many industries everywhere, and it may not be fair to jump the minimum wage up too high considering living expenses, ability to find jobs, and other quality of life issues differ significantly from town to town, city to city and state to state.

      The “trickle-u’ isn’t in the form of jobs. Yes, jobs are the number one source of income mobility, and for that reason, they are more effective at moving the economy than welfare aid, but the point is that their wages in our new economy are significantly below what we want a good portion of our citizens to make to stir the economy. When people can afford to pay rent, electricity, phone, basic cable, health care and maybe a college class or vocational class or two PLUS an occasional splurge on something, that helps the economy. Higher wages mean we are taking in my tax revenue. Higher wages (and by higher, we mean reasonable wages) help businesses get more customers. It means people can attempt to move up economically with some careful financial consideration. It means we can tap talent and skills of people who are as of right now, simply struggling to get by, when, with just a little more income, they can attempt to take on more responsibilities and try to explore new ways to contribute to our economy and society.

      I guess it seems “bleeding heart,” but those of us who think people need to get paid more are thinking about our grandparents who lived in a time when graduating high school was enough to find decent employment with which one could simply work hard and be loyal and be able to afford to grow a family in several years with that job. We want a strong middle class. We don’t want to beat up the successful CEO’s, but pointing out their exceptional income illustrates the fact that they are not suffering so much that a small stagnation in their pay should hurt them nor the economy—that these low paying industries are doing exceptionally well. We don’t want that to fail, but we can afford to spur the economy just a little more with a reasonable pay increase for people who are clearly not being lazy but who are working full time jobs.

    • Knightwatch says:

      Lancer, you are flat out wrong on so many levels. You talk about “leftist” monetary policy being disasterous. Let’s look at the facts. Here’s CNN Money: “In the global currency cage match, the dollar is as unstoppable as undefeated UFC champ Ronda Rousey. The greenback is trading at a 12-year high against the euro and 8-year high versus the Japanese yen. This strength is, in many respects, a sign that the economy in the United States is much healthier than Europe, Japan and many other parts of the world.”

      Let’s talk about GDP. The “Real” U.S. GDP in March 2015 was +2.99%, not wonderful, but hardly static. Remember, it was -0.92% in 2008 (Source – U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis).

      And talk about the national debt? Yes, the debt will increase but decidedly NOT because of our president. Per the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. annual the budget deficit has fallen to $412 billion, down from $460 billion in April and $491 billion a year earlier. That marks the lowest 12-month deficit since August 2008.

      So, you’re right that the total U.S. debt is way too high, but it is not President Obama’s “spending”. You’re seeing the results of unfunded wars and a “Great Recession” whose recovery is still in progress. And don’t blame Obamacare … the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the national debt would increase by $355 Billion if Obamacare was cancelled. That’s increase!!

      And please remember, by law the president (Executive Branch) and the Judiciary only get to spend what Congress votes to give them. Your Republican Congress holds the purse strings in this country, so if tthere’s a debt, direct your ire at the cause.

      Oh, yeah, the poverty rate. Can you imagine the horror if we had not pumped so much money into the poor and disadvantaged. We have a growing population of people in need and it would be less than “Christian” to not help them. I thought that’s what America was all about. Stop whining and pay your taxes so we can redistribute the wealth a little more evenly.

      • Lancer says:


        It would be great if you even knew what “stagnant”, especially in terms of an economy as large as the US, actually is.

        You do realize that, just to roll the ball forward, we need, at bare minimum, 3.5% growth a year, right? That barely moves us in a forward direction. When government spending represents over 1/3 of gdp…its crap. Government taking money from people who earned it, to give it to people who didn’t…creates nothing. That’s merely a shell game.

        Also, interesting is that you and yours are so willing to “blame Bush” at every turn(which I do, he and his ilk spent like a democrat)…except democrats controlled Congress his last two years…where the predominant amount of his spending can be attributed. They passed stimulus I and II, TARP, etc. The first four years of 0bam-bam??? Oh yes…democrat control…and the passing of the, most atrocious bill since prohibition, 0bamacare.

        Also, in the short term memory loss of democrats is who controlled congress when they turn around and give credit to the “high tech boom”, when Clinton was president! It’s like the “contract with America” never happened!

        “Oh yeah, the poverty rate.” The lefts excuse for failure is, actually, it could have been worse??? LOL. 50 years of “progressive” programs that has not moved the poverty rate needle a single percentage point and spent $22 TRILLION BUCKS! Once again…that is failure so pathetic and outlandish that only a “progressive” can ignore or defend it. Yep…the left, a bunch of government flunkies with no talent for jobs creation or financial responsibility of any kind, believe we should even “double down” on the stupidity that has stagnated our economy!

        Be honest: LBJ created these programs to be a permanent voting base for the democrat party. Much like FDR did with Triple A when his failed policies actually prolonged the depression 7 years, it just gave them control. You were taught it was the “new deal”, the economic reality is…it was a raw deal.

        No, Knight…leftists just squashed the greatest economy the world has ever known, replicating the policies that has never succeeded…anywhere its been tried. Maybe they should have just learned that Marx was a professional bum. That he was only able to live, skimming off of Engel’s merchant family, writing his “opus” that gives the state any manner it desires to attempt to kill individual achievement.

        The reality…we haven’t had free market capitalism in the United States sense the roaring 1920’s. You know, when free market principles were adopted instead of bailouts. Government spending was cut in half. The result…3% unemployment for the entire decade. Government debt from WWI was cut in half! remarkable technological advancements were born because people were financially rewarded for them!

        • Footballen says:

          While I sincerely appreciate your efforts you must consider that you have engaged in a debate with counterparts whom would just assume counter with the usual hyena type warfare they most commonly employ. Good luck with that. You will be dragged down to their level and beaten with experience.

  8. Layla says:

    We have a similar situation here in Palm Coast. Our city manager makes more than our Governor. He makes more than all but 5 governors in this country. Ask yourself why? City employees could use that money.

  9. The Bold Truth 69 says:

    What a piece of crap journal this is. Mr. Klinger has some pair of balls crafting an article on the “highly profitable companies” and their millionaire leaders paying low wages when Mr. Klinger is the “Director of Revenue and Spending Policies” in Washington where more fiscal mismanagement takes places than anywhere in the United States. I support higher wages; however, bashing those who are successful does not support a sound argument. Let’s find out how much Mr. Klinger makes per hour so others can decide how much of his hourly rate can be given to others. What nonsense…

  10. Uncle Scrooge says:

    I don’t feel that CEO gets paid enough to deal with all those screaming, brat rug rats. Give him a raise !!!

  11. nomad says:

    Lancer, most of what you say I agree. But, yes there’s always a but, corporations receive generous tax breaks and subsidies of taxpayer dollars that allow them to operate at an advantage rather than compete fairly. In addition, they hire the services of armies of lawyers and lobbyists to enact laws and policies that benefit their bottom line but are detrimental to the taxpayers whose tax dollars enrich their companies. Additionally, they fund political campaigns guaranteeing their politicians gets elected into office who are then beholden to them. Wall Street bailout, Citizens United, Obamacare, NAFTA, TPP, TNPP are just a few of the illegal deals that corporations have gotten congress to support at the expense of the taxpayer and voter. Voting in America is a sham and a pretense to fool the citizens into thinking they have a say. THEY DO NOT.

    No, it’s not about envy. It’s about the American taxpayer rightfully receiving the same benefits from their tax dollars that corporations receive but do not contribute to/pay into in terms of the huge amount of corporate welfare they receive.

    Corporations like to spin the job creators mantra but corporations do not go not business to create jobs for people and they certainly do not keep a failing business open to keep people employed. They go into business to make money and therefore should not benefit from taxpayer dollars that citizens pay to enhance their personal living and social environment.

  12. YankeeExPat says:

    Disney paid CEO Robert Iger $46.5 million, and Disney Current Dividend Yield: is 1.06%. Investors are getting Cornholed by the Country Bear Jamboree!

  13. Marvelous says:

    I’m sure that the CEO is gonna take a pay cut to spread the wealth to cover the pay increase of the workers. Yeah right! The prices will just go up to pay the workers and then the workers will still not be able to afford to be a consumer if their own product.

  14. Sherry E says:

    Most educated, intelligent citizens understand that many, many “non-profit” businesses provide good jobs that include a “living wage” for their employees. It does NOT take a multi-millionaire to provide decent paying jobs! What is actually at issue here is the “DISPARITY” between the salary/bonus/benefits packages of the heads of many companies in the USA and their workers.

    There is absolutely NO justification for any successful business to deny and dishonor their hard working employees by paying them as LITTLE as possible. . . except GREED! GREED at the expense of those chosen to work for you! GREED at the expense of the economy of the USA! GREED at the expense of the future of our country! We are a capitalistic nation, how are goods going to continue to be consumed if the average worker cannot afford to buy them?

    What is especially onerous is that the company founded to provide a fantasy of delight for children is creating massive wealth for it’s leaders while charging prices that are less and less affordable for the average family! When I consider the way “people of color” are portrayed at Epcot, I am not convinced that the early Disney leaders had any real appreciation of the civilizations that were created hundreds of years before Columbus touched the shores of North America. Be that as it may, they could easily afford to charge less for admission and pay their employees more. . . while still racking in a sizable profit! Why the obsession with “maximizing” profits on the backs of children and their own workers. . . GREED!

  15. Anonymous says:

    check out the gift shops in the magic kingdom and look at all the expensive garbage for the kids that is made in china. its a shame that this is not what Walt Disney had in mind for the families in America. Parking is 17$ now and will soon be 20$. it will go up and up and up until you see nothing but foreigners in the theme parks. Disney is a big American joke and rip off, I personally am done and my kids can’t afford it for their kids

  16. Sherry E says:

    Well said anonymous! I saw through the “maximize profit, at any cost” motives years and years ago!

    Disney is certainly not the only company turning the screws on their employees, but considering their business of fun for children, they are among most unethical and unsavory. Middle class citizens simply can’t afford to take their kids to Disney, yet their marketing puts great pressure on parents to do just that. . . just to add even more to the Disney bottom line. They certainly don’t represent the most honorable of American businesses!

    Business owners/managers take care of your employees and customers, and they’ll take care of you. Profits over people should NOT be the American Way!!!

  17. This is what wealth inequality in America looks like …

  18. Linda Lee says:

    I agree with Layla… Palm Coast is a joke… My words…
    Even worse is the little Observer making this area out
    to be only for the affluent… There is not much in between
    in income levels… The pay for certain people is crazy.
    Meanwhile, the poor suffer greatly due to this false impression
    of wealth and grandeur. We have underpaid teachers, service
    workers, and peolpe under the radar that cannot get help no matter
    how hard they try.

    Students go to FPC and many just assume everyone has money, and
    has things handed to them on a silver platter. Don’t get me wrong about
    the income inequality. The cost of living and utilities, rents, etc. has doubled
    in 7 years and gets worse daily…

    No public transportation as it will not generate revenue, it will only break
    even… So what.. Even Ormond Beach has public buses…. It’s very sad to
    see a place that has potential become a place that appears to be for the
    “rich and famous”. Really hoping noone says just move.. Lol.. Not possible
    sort of stuck….

  19. Anonymous says:

    There is a BIG lie in this and most stories like it. That being the low pay being described is in most ALL cases the STARTING pay not the average pay of that job. Although that does not excuse the fact that the top pay is so way out of line with the average pay.

    • Uh Huh says:

      Starting pay will be $10 beginning in 2016, with 20¢ – 25¢ raises every 6 months. Yeah, the Disney workers are really raking in the money.

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