SEIU’s Ridiculous Claim- Wendy’s CEO “Takes Home $16.5 Billion”

On November 29, the SEIU sent out an email to their members from a “Joshua Williams, Fast Food Worker” advocating for unionization of fast food companies, showcasing a worker engaging in class war:

Last year, the CEO of Wendy’s took home $16.5 billion dollars while I barely scraped by on $16,000. Like so many of my fellow fast food workers who work long hours at my store, I struggle to earn the money I need to pay for my rent, food, clothing, housing, student loans and childcare for my 7-month-old son Jayvon.

Today, my coworkers and I are fighting for our rights and to end that constant struggle. We’re striking for a livable wage of $15/hour and our right to form a union. But we need your help.

If you think it’s a little odd that a fast food CEO could be taking home $16.5 billion dollars in a year, you’re right- that amount would immediately make the CEO of Wendy’s the 19th richest person in the world, kicking off Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is worth only a paltry $15.9 billion. Clearly, the SEIU’s claims are demonstrably false.

But in case you think this was a mere typo and the SEIU meant “millions” instead of “billions”, Warner Todd Huston points out that even $16.5 million is a stretch

In the Forbes list of American CEOs, the current Wendy’s chief, Emily J. Brolick, is listed with a salary of $338,462 annually and a total compensation package of $4.6 million. Not even a tiny bit close to the lie that the SEIU tried to pass off on its members and potential members…
Brolick has only been onboard for a short time, so maybe “Joshua Williams” meant the previous CEO? Well, let’s look.
Former Wendy’s CEO Roland Smith left the company in 2011. Before he did he “took home” slightly less than $16.5 billion. Instead, Mr. Smith “took home” a $11.4 million in severance pay. In 2010 he made a paltry $4.9 million.

So a minor exaggeration to round into $16.5 million, and a very large exaggeration to turn that million into a billion. And that’s the point- the SEIU is not shy to over-exaggerate their case to make their cause seem more legitimate. The SEIU certainly isn’t shy about paying people to protest for their causes- why wouldn’t they stretch the truth here?

Most importantly, the SEIU is stretching the truth to make their case for the minimum wage and unionization. They’re advocating for a mandate to increase wages as they have done before when asking for an increase in the federal minimum wage. As we’ve covered before, increasing the minimum wage would be a disaster specifically for those who they say they’re trying to help.

The SEIU needs to be honest with itself and its members and stop stretching the truth. It also needs to stop fighting for shortsighted raises which may kill jobs rather than helping people. While it is a noble effort to advocate for struggling families, mandated changes can kill jobs and increase unemployment, particularly in this economy.

All the increased wages and benefits in the world mean nothing if you can’t find a job to receive them with, and the SEIU’s stretched half-truths makes poor consolation.