The 12 Companies Paying Americans the Least

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4. Target
> U.S. workforce: 365,000
> CEO compensation:
$19,707,107
> Revenue:
$69.87 billion
> Net income:
$2.93 billion
> No. of U.S. stores:
1,763

Shortly after competitor Walmart announced that it would open its doors for Black Friday shoppers at 8 p.m. Thursday, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) then said that it would also open its doors Thursday night. Employees were not thrilled by the news. One California-based Target worker drafted a petition calling on Target to “save Thanksgiving” and stick to its Friday opening time. More than 220,000 people have signed the petition. Target insists that it took employees into consideration before making the decision to open early. One executive said, “We had so many team members who wanted to work on Thursday that hundreds of our stores are now keeping lists of volunteers who want to work if shifts open up.”

3. McDonald’s
> U.S. workforce:
859,978
> CEO compensation:
$4,073,748
> Revenue:
$27.01 billion
> Net income:
$5.50 billion
> No. of U.S. stores:
14,098

McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) is the king of fast-food, with revenue greater than any other restaurant operator on this list, and far more locations as well. The company’s website offers a long list of awards and recognition for the diversity of its workplace. But even McDonald’s is not immune to economic pressures. The company just reported its first monthly drop in global revenue at locations open more than a year, down 1.8% in October. McDonald’s USA president, Jan Fields was subsequently ousted to be replaced by Jeff Stratton, who is currently global chief restaurant officer.

2. Yum! Brands
> U.S. workforce:
880,330
> CEO compensation: $20,411,852
> Revenue:
$12.63 billion
> Net income:
$1.33 billion
> No. of U.S. stores:
16,006

Because Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), the operator of the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains, is one of the biggest employers of low wage workers, it takes benefits seriously. According to watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy, the fast food giant co-chaired the labor and business regulation subcommittee of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a “corporate-funded bill mill” that encourages laws that benefits its corporate members. At a 2011 meeting, attendees considered model bills designed to override paid sick leave legislation in the states. In 2012, following negative press over ALEC initiatives and the departure of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Yum! Brands became one of several large companies to abandon the council.

1. Walmart
> U.S. workforce:
1,400,000
> CEO compensation:
$18,131,738
> Revenue:
$446.95 billion
> Net income:
$15.70 billion
> No. of U.S. stores:
3,868

The labor practices of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) have long received negative attention in the press, but that has not affected investors much. WMT’s share price rose more than 48% in the past five years. In 2008, Walmart agreed to pay $640 million in settlements of dozens of class-action lawsuits that claimed the company deprived workers of pay for time worked. In October a class action lawsuit was filed in a Chicago federal court alleging that the retailer had violated minimum wage and overtime laws. Walmart workers have begun to strike, and some plan to walk off the job on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Walmart has filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union to prevent this from happening.

Trey Thoelcke, Michael Sauter, Alexander E. M. Hess and Samuel Weigley

Also Read: America’s Most Profitable Stores