Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– Fast food chains like McDonald’s have contemplated automation for some time and are either now using or planning to use robotics or some type of automatic ordering to save time and money spent on higher wage fast food workers. As of now, McDonalds is considering the use of burger flippers, robotics and automated ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in over 2,000 of their restaurant/stores across America.
Like other food industry administrators and CEOs, McDonald’s realizes that it is less expensive to buy a robotic arm than it is to hire a $15 an hour employee to bag fries and cashier. McDonald’s considers the current minimum wage changes as destructive and inflationary to the industry, and they realize that thousands of jobs will be lost across the country because of significant labor cost increases.
McDonald’s and other fast food giants have been forced to eliminate entry-level jobs and replace workers with machines, and the kiosks will be in place to cut the costs of $15 an hour employment.
The increases in the minimum wage in a number of states have driven down the number of jobs available, and automation is going to be more prevalent not only in McDonald’s but in other fast food establishments, grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores and other outlets where minimum wage workers are employed.
Customer service will always be an issue with fast food establishments and with the use of machine ordering, there is money to be saved in the use of automation, plus business is more efficient and customer satisfaction comes with limited human error and the possibilities of negative interactions with employees and dissatisfied customers.
McDonald’s is not deliberately stifling $15 an hour employment, but it is trying to equalize the costs of doing business and when labor costs become unsustainable, alternatives have to be put in place through robotic devices and automatic ordering kiosks that can replace high cost employees.
Fast food and other workers that have protested and rallied for higher minimum wages in the past were not thinking clearly when they went all out in their actions to secure higher wages. Many were not prepared for the letdowns in their current or future employment. They were simply unaware of the cost of doing business and were not willing to realize that their employers or future employers would likely be downsizing their operations by releasing employees, cutting hours, or not hiring any new employees. Hoping for a better standard of living through a higher minimum wage was not the right answer in their case, and it has backfired on many minimum wage earners.
It looks as though minimum wage earners need to look back on their past actions and train for higher level positions and perhaps help reverse the minimum wage increases that they fought for and demanded. Perhaps they need to speak with their state legislators and think about changing their outlook on what a substantial increase in a minimum wage can do to their placement in the job market.
Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent– When you decide to fight, not only should you choose your battles wisely, but choose what you fight for. Seemingly, the prodding for a $15/hour minimum wage increase is enough to push many fast food companies to the brink of automation. One such fast food chain is McDonald’s.
According to reports, McDonald’s will likely advance to using automated ordering kiosks, instead of manual labor. Rumor has it that this drastic change might be because of the $15 dollar per hour push in minimum wage.
Back in 2016, the city of New York received $15 in minimum wage after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law. Additionally, there was a proposition by the University of California to pay some of its employees $15 per hour. Even Florida saw an increase in minimum wage.
All these changes could push companies like McDonald’s to automate and cut back. In fact, many companies are expediting the installation of automated kiosks due to this.
But, who stands to lose? Yup, you guessed it. Those employees who are pushing for a $15 minimum wage will feel the blunt of the stick. If companies like McDonald’s automate some of their operations, people will be out of a job. Not only should people choose their battles wisely, but they must choose what they fight for.
Gastonia, NC Correspondent- McDonald’s is a multibillion-dollar international corporation, and it long ago gave up on considering its employees as individuals. There’s a good reason why “working at McDonald’s” has become a popular euphemism for being in a dead-end job or working for low wages in a thankless atmosphere. That said, it does provide employment for tens of thousands of people who otherwise wouldn’t be drawing a paycheck of any kind, and gives a lot of pimply-faced 16-year-olds their first taste of the working world, where no one cares if you’re having a bad day or if you just really didn’t want to get up this morning.
The automated ordering kiosks are absolutely a cost-saving measure, but they’re also an effort to increase customer satisfaction. Over the years, the McDonald’s cash register has become a helipad-sized touchpad covered with buttons put so close together that it’s possible to order a shake and fries and end up with a dozen Big Macs and a kid’s meal if your order taker has fat fingers. With the kiosks, customers can take their time and punch up their own orders, make sure they’re correct, and then send them in for fulfillment.
Of course, that “take their time” part is going to slow things down a bit. When there’s a human standing there drumming her fingers and looking behind you at the ever-growing line, the pressure to make up your mind and get out of the way becomes intense. When a friendly glowing screen is showing you pictures of tasty things (which never, EVER look that good on your tray), it’s easy to dawdle along deciding among nugget sauces, burger toppings and which antacid will quell the inevitable heartburn you’ll get after ingesting your order.
The more local governments try to hike minimum wages, the more companies like McD’s will respond by cutting workforce. The company lives and dies by its low price point, so expenses will have to be trimmed before prices will be increased.
Owatonna, MN Correspondent- Automation and robotics are two factors affecting jobs and wages that get little attention from policy makers and politicians because it’s more politically expedient to blame American job losses on our evil, greedy megacorporations offshoring jobs to countries like Mexico, China, and India.
The first goal of any business is to earn enough profit to survive, so it makes sense for McDonald’s to produce their products and serve their customers in the most cost-effective manner. Installing automated ordering kiosks makes financial sense if the costs of building, installing, and maintaining those kiosks are less than the cost of hiring employees to take orders and serve customers. Since McDonald’s specializes in hiring new, young workers with little or no experience, most of their service jobs pay minimum wage to start because inexperienced workers aren’t as productive as skilled, experienced workers. Paying new workers more than their productivity warrants will lose money for any business.
Rather than a proactive stifling of the proposed $15 minimum wage being enacted or considered by many cities and states, McDonald’s response is a reasonable reaction to a major cost increase that would negatively impact their profitability. It’s the same principle that influences consumers to buy chicken instead of steak when the price of beef gets too high. Both types of meat provide necessary protein for our diets. It makes perfect sense to obtain that protein at the lowest cost commensurate with quality.
Raising any wages to a higher level than the market will bear, no matter if it’s minimum wage or executive pay, always results in market forces correcting the imbalance between supply and demand. When prices (wages in this case) get too high, customers (employers) will look for cheaper alternatives (automation). It’s an immutable law of economics, one that few politicians understand.