Walmart CEO's hourly wage equals one year salary of new employees. Chicago, Illinois Alderman Ed Smith presented figures at a recent city council meeting indicating a massive wage disparity between Walmart Executives and employees. Smith determined that Walmart CEO Michael Duke earns an estimated $35 million per year, at an hourly wage of $16,826.92 while newly hired workers earn $8.75 per hour, for a yearly gross income of $13,650. The Institute for Policy Studies, a research group formed in Washington D.C. supports Smith's figures. A study in 2009 found that CEO's within S&P 500 companies earn 319 times that of the average American worker.
Equilar, an executive compensation research firm contradicts Smith's figures. Equilar estimates that Duke earned $20 million in 2009 and millions in performance awards. Walmart's director of community affairs, Steven Restivo stated he doesn't "think Mike Duke needs, as the CEO of a Fortune 1 company, needs me to defend his compensation package."
The debate was sparked by the future construction of a Pullman, Illinois, Walmart. Walmart refused to become unionized and is expected to bring tax incentives and job opportunities to the area.