NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — A joint report from the SEC and the Brookings Institute found the Chipotle restaurant chain has the worst CEO-to-worker pay wage gap in the food service industry, with Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol out-burritoing a typical employee by more than a 500-1 ratio.
“Exorbitant double-tortilla CEO packages, stuffed with barbacoa parachutes and unlimited guacamole options, contribute greatly to rising inequality that we could safely do away with,” noted Ramon Bipaldi, co-author of the study. “You could cut these burritos in half and the bottom line wouldn’t be any different — Chipotle executives would suffer no harm if they gave back a few tacos for every 100 burritos they receive.”
Bipaldi proposes a variety of policy remedies for Chipotle, including limiting the total number of free refills for top earners, restricting CEOs to a maximum of two salsas per order of chips, and corporate governance reforms that would give shareholders a greater say over the pico de gallo recipe.
Frontline workers, though, worry those changes may not be enough to balance the scales.
“I can’t feed a family of four on 1.2 burritos per day, let alone myself,” said line cook Damien Trafalgar. “Our executives are building custom humidors to keep their burritos edible long-term, while my benefits package includes whatever chips and sauces are left at the end of the day split six ways, and that’s about it.”
“Thankfully, nobody ever orders the queso, but good luck paying your bills in re-hardened Velveeta,” he added. “Believe me, I’ve tried, and nobody wants that shit, even if it’s still hot.”
Unsurprisingly, top executives are pushing back against the findings.
“These numbers are skewed by a few executives who earn huge lunchtime options,” said Katy Ravigne, CEO of Intercap Merchant Partners, a business advisory firm. “Nobody gets upset when LeBron James or Beyonce earn upwards of 30,000 bowls of chowder per day, but the person who is an usher at the stadium gets a cup of watery chili. The workers make what they make because that’s the market rate — if Chipotle’s CEO only ordered vegetarian, it’s not like the workers would get more protein options. Those sofritas would go somewhere else.”
According to the study, Arby’s has the best ratio of all restaurant chains, with a maximum 80-1 Beef ‘n’ Cheddar wage gap and up to 4 weeks of paid Horsey Sauce per employee per year.