Shantel Walker has been working on and off for Papa John’s pizza since she was in high school. The 32-year-old New York City resident says that over her 15 years at a Brooklyn outlet of the Louisville, Ky.-based pizza chain, she’s received only two raises that weren’t mandated by federal or state minimum wage hikes. Today she makes $8.50 an hour, 50 cents above the New York State minimum wage, but her employer doesn’t currently use her more than 24 hours a week.
At the top end of the Papa John’s pyramid, CEO John Schnatter, the 51-year-old founder of the pizza chain, received a 26-percent increase in his base salary, to $900,000, according to a recent regulatory filing. His total compensation package last year: $2.1 million.
That income disparity between high-level executives and average employees is more extreme in the fast-food industry than in other areas of the service economy, according to a report released Tuesday by Demos, a liberal economic policy think tank. The study suggests that creating instability among large numbers of employees by not paying them enough to cover the cost of living creates a climate that can be detrimental to shareholder interests.