People, Profits,

   & Pensions


Alabama & General Electric

pension fundsBy Robert F. Abbott, author of Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits? the book that explains the connection between the retirement income of the middle class and the profits of big business

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alabama, General Electric, mutual funds, pension fundsEver wonder who owns the mighty General Electric Company? Check out the official records and you'll find much of it belongs to middle class people such as Alabama's teachers and public employees.

Combined, the Alabama Teachers' and Alabama Employees' Retirement Systems owned 8,067,000 shares of the venerable GE, according to the most recent report of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, for the fiscal year which ended on September 30, 2013.

And according to's calculations, 55% of General Electric is owned by institutional investors (pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies, banks, hedge funds, and other large investment vehicles).

For more connections between working, middle class people and the world's biggest corporations, please visit our archives.

The Bigger Picture:

Will Profits from Big Macs Add to Your Retirement Income?

In 1948, the McDonald brothers redesigned and remodelled their drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Taking inspiration from Henry Ford's assembly-line, they created the fast food revolution, with the quick service and low prices we now take for granted.

In that same year, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board ruled unions could include pension issues in contract negotiations. That ignited a massive expansion of pension plans.

In the 1950s, pension funds started buying stocks, rather than just bonds or their equivalents; in addition mutual funds came of age. With these two developments working, middle class people became owners of big business. At first, their stakes were modest, but steadily growing.

And in just a few decades, they gained controlling interests in many large corporations through their funds. Management guru Peter Drucker has called it, " of the most startling power shifts in economic history."

Now, working people reap the benefits of those investments, collecting much of the profit distributed by McDonald's and other big corporations.

Discover how the pieces fit together. In Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits? - a new booklet -(about 25-pages), you will:

  • learn more about the McDonald's transformation and its implications for the future
  • find out how McDonald's makes its profits (and it involves more than selling Quarter Pounders)
  • meet some of the working people who get McDonald's profits through their pension and mutual funds
  • find out how low wages became embedded in the fast food industry
  • hear accusations from critics of McDonald's wages, and
  • learn who has the ultimate say on fast food wages (the answer may surprise you).

You may not be among the owners of McDonald's. But if you belong to any pension plan, or contribute to a mutual fund or whole life insurance policy, you likely own pieces of some big corporations.

More importantly, though, your retirement income will be bigger and grow more dependably than you would otherwise expect.

Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits? is now available at

About This Site

This website explores connections between the profits of the world's biggest (publicly-traded) companies, and the retirement income of working, middle class citizens.

Through their pension funds and mutual funds (collectively known as institutional investors) middle class citizens own much of big business.

In the reports, you'll see selected information about the institutional holdings of specific corporations. That will give you a rough idea of what percentage of a corporation's profits go to working people through pension and mutual funds.

The reports are written by Robert F. Abbott, author of Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits?