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What’s Your Worth?

Compare your salary to these Milwaukeeans

May. 27, 2009
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How much is your work worth? Is your salary equal to the importance of your work to society? Or does it reflect your willingness to sell your soul for a paycheck? Or is your salary simply a function of your level of education or how in demand your skills are? We have taken a look at what our fellow Milwaukeeans are being paid and you can decide for yourself.

Building a Better World

Some very smart, highly educated people choose to work with nonprofits that are focused on social change and building a more just and healthy society. These folks understand that there is going to be a trade-off in salary for a job that is making the world a better place. So what do these social-change agents earn?

  • Thomas G. Cannon, executive director of the Legal Aid Society: $111,440

  • Ralph Hollmon, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League: $80,000

  • Mark Redsten, executive director of Clean Wisconsin: $63,450

  • Christopher Boston, executive director of MICAH: $57,500

  • Kerry Schumann, executive director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters: $54,154

  • Robert Miranda, executive director of Esperanza Unida: $48,006

  • Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. and WRTL Education Fund: $33,389

Caring for the Most Vulnerable in Our Society

One area that should make everyone feel a little uncomfortable is the salary schedule for the workers who care for our most vulnerable loved ones: the young, the old and the disabled.

  • Nursing-home workers: $10 per hour

  • Day-care workers: $7.75 per hour

Higher Education: Colleges and Universities

University chancellors are some of the most influential leaders in any community, while professors can have a huge impact on the intellectual and professional development of their students. Their earnings may surprise you.

  • Hermann Viets, Ph.D., president of MSOE: $345,000

  • Carlos Santiago, chancellor of UW- Milwaukee: $300,550

  • Full professor of political science at Marquette University: $85,000

  • Starting assistant professor of political science at Marquette University: $55,000

Local Business Execs Doing Well

Despite the recession, major corporate layoffs and falling earnings, being the CEO of a large company is still where the money is. And despite the hard times, the salaries of these CEOs have not really been affected. Here is a sampling of the salaries, not including lucrative benefits—such as stock options or golden parachutes—of some of our area’s corporate executives.

  • Gale E. Klappa, CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corp.: $1,129,008

  • Keith D. Nosbusch, president and CEO of Rockwell Automation: $1,030,840

  • Mark F. Furlong, president and CEO of Marshall & Ilsley: $875,000

  • Timothy W. Sullivan, president and CEO of Bucyrus International: $843,250

  • Steven J. Smith, CEO of Journal Communications Inc.: $798,077

“Nonprofit” Health Care

Another area of major corporations includes the “nonprofit” health care institutions, which, despite their nonprofit corporate status, are often quite profitable institutions. Do you think they compensate their executives fairly?

  • Nick Turkal, CEO of Aurora Health Care: $2,020,814

  • John Oliverio, president and CEO of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare: $899,629

  • Leo Brideau, president and CEO of Columbia St. Mary’s: $877,069

  • William Petasnick, president and CEO of Froedtert Hospital: $542,635

Pushing the Right-Wing Agenda

Whether it is pushing to privatize the public schools or fighting the city of Milwaukee’s paid sick days ordinance, which was approved by nearly 70% of the voting public last November, carrying the water for the conservative special interest groups certainly pays well. There are various major players in this game, starting with Michael W. Grebe, the president of the ultraconservative Bradley Foundation, which helps fund extreme right-wing efforts and organizations all across the country. Then there is the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the “business advocacy group” that collects its money from business owners with diverse political views and spends a disproportionate amount of its time pushing for right-wing political change.

  • Michael W. Grebe, president and CEO of the Bradley Foundation: $560,967. In addition to his annual salary, Grebe also gets $49,250 in employee benefits and deferred compensation

  • Tim Sheehy, president of MMAC: $300,560 (2008 salary), $398,195 (2007 salary), $359,585 (2006 salary)

School Choice Windfall

For many years there has been a significant effort by right-wing organizations to take away funding from Milwaukee Public Schools students and send them to private, unregulated voucher schools. Although an analysis earlier this year showed that student performance in these schools was largely the same as in MPS, the school choice organizations continue to push their dubious experiment at the expense of our children. Perhaps some of their key leaders are more than slightly motivated by their comfortable salaries and benefits packages.

  • Susan Mitchell, president of School Choice Wisconsin: $176,323

  • Dan McKinley, president/CEO, Partners Advancing Values in Education: $173,399 plus $20,167 in benefits

  • Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, part-time consultant for the Alliance for School Choice: $126,000

  • Messmer High School principal (receives voucher money): $125,000

  • Rufus King High School principal (one of MPS’s most prestigious high schools): $114,516

  • Teacher at MPS with seven years of experience and a master’s degree: $49,008

Public Servants

A good public servant works almost continuously. When an elected official goes to the supermarket or out for a quiet dinner, he or she is often approached by constituents who want to discuss their particular urgent issue. Whether they are underpaid or overpaid largely depends on how well they do their jobs and how responsive they are to their constituents.

  • Members of Congress: $174,000

  • Sen. Russ Feingold: $162,100 (Feingold refuses to take a pay raise during a term in office)

  • MPS Superintendent William Andrekopoulos: $171,377

  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett: $146,008

  • Milwaukee City Attorney Grant F. Langley: $146,007

  • Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn: $135,580

  • Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker: $129,611 (but Walker returns $10,000 per year)

  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke: $129,438

  • Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines: $85,971

  • Milwaukee Common Council members: $76,530

  • Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway: $71,412

  • Wisconsin state legislators: $61,443 (includes average amount for per diems)

  • Milwaukee County supervisors: $50,679 n MPS School Board members: $18,121

The Entertainment Sector

Even in difficult economic times, most of us seek some form of solace through entertainment and other cultural activities. How much are the heads of some of Milwaukee’s most popular destinations earning?

  • Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival Inc.: $308,437

  • Daniel M. Finley, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum: $188,486

  • Joseph Hanreddy, artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater: $182,104

  • Paul Mathews, president of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts: $172,895

  • Mark Hanson, executive director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra: $168,714

  • Daniel Keegan, director/CEO of the Milwaukee Art Museum: $162,019

Meet Your Neighbors

Odds are that you are not doing quite as well as many listed above, but how are you doing compared to some of these everyday working people in our community?

  • Median household income in Milwaukee County: $42,865

  • Milwaukee police detective: $65,453.37 to $70,702.59 (base salary, plus benefits)

  • Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputy: $63,103

  • Registered nurse: $55,680 (average salary)

  • Senior accountant: $50,000-$60,000

  • Milwaukee County assistant district attorney: $48,000 (starting salary)

  • Milwaukee police officer: $47,120.72 to 63,404.15 (base salary, plus benefits)

  • Firefighter: $37,623.60 (starting salary, plus benefits)

  • Milwaukee bus driver: $32,602

  • Paralegal: $30,720

  • Office manager: $30,000-$35,000

  • Pharmacy technician: $26,880

  • Veteran security guard: $22,080

  • Hospital transporter: $19,200

(The salary and benefit information used in this story was taken from a variety of sources, including the most recent public documents available, reports in the media, various job listings and interviews with individuals.)

Cory Liebmann owns the research firm Liebmann Associates LLC and authors the progressive blog Eye on Wisconsin.

Comment on this article at ExpressMilwaukee.com.


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