Apparently, Wal-mart CEO Mike Duke isn't getting the message from all those employee protests over pay and benefits.
During an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, Bloomberg LP President Dan Doctoroff asked Duke about Wal-Mart employee wages, and noted that "New York is claiming that wages, you know, aren't adequate for that middle-class or emerging middle-class."
Duke claims that Wal-Mart's over 2 million employees earn "competitive wages."
"Retailing is the most competitive industry out there, and we do pay competitive wages," Duke said. "Last year we promoted 165,000 people from entry-level to managerial positions."
Duke added that Walmart provides health insurance to 1 million people in the United States.
But he said he's used to all the criticism.
"With more success comes more responsibility and expectations from the public," Duke said. "So I'm thrilled to be in a position where people expect more of me."
Duke has been CEO since February 2009. According to Forbes, his compensation was $18.7 million last year.
If Duke is comparing Wal-Mart's wages to say Target, sure, maybe they're competitive. And as for the health insurance, I wonder if that is being "provided" to the less than 50% of Wal-Mart employees or simply "offered"? As many employees can't afford their share of the expense for the plans on their low wages
Note, too, that Duke didn't really respond to Doctoroff's question of "adequate" wages. How could Duke, who received a base salary of about $1.2 million and a performance-based bonus of nearly $3.9 million in 2010, possibly truthfully say those employee wages were adequate?
As CEO Duke spoke, Wal-Mart employees stood outside protesting their treatment at work.