McDonald’s Counters The Minimum Wage Hike To $15 By Flirting With Automation

Over the course of this year, people who work minimum wage jobs have pushed for an increase of their pay to a living wage. The Inquisitr reported on the latest pertaining to the movement to increase minimum wage as it became available. Certain states, such as Washington, have pushed for a $15 minimum wage, which is actually higher than some degree-based careers. It should also be reported that the Democratic party is pushing for minimum wage increases across the country, though they may be hypocrites when said minimum wage pertains to their businesses. Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic party hopeful for Senate in Kentucky who lost to McConnell, is a prime example of this hypocrisy.

Now there are reports that McDonald’s, the most popular fast food chain in the world, is countering the mandating of a $15 minimum wage. How are they doing it? They are flirting with the idea of automatic cashier machines, similar to the automatic check-out machines found in some grocery and retail stores such as Walmart.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the “Fight for $15” campaign led by unions hoping to expand into the fast-food industry and progressive activist groups may be on the verge of ceasing. Conservatives have warned that raising the minimum wage by mandating would harm businesses, cost low-skilled workers their jobs, and lead to automation to replace many of them.

To counter the Conservatives, unions and progressives use former president Bill Clinton’s success with a minimum wage hike as an example, in which the country did well with it. The big difference between what Clinton wanted and what they want now is that Clinton pushed for a 90 cent increase across the nation in stages, while unions and progressives want minimum wage to be automatically increased to a living wage. For some states, that is a $7 increase.

Despite the details, unions and progressives are sticking with the “Fight for $15” campaign, but like it was written earlier, they may lose, and McDonald’s is leading the charge by testing automated cashier machines.

Fight for $15
Could this be the future of McDonald’s?

Don Thompson, the CEO of McDonald’s, verified McDonald’s automated move by stating the following.

“By the third quarter of next year, McDonald’s plans to introduce new technology in some markets “to make it easier for customers to order and pay for food digitally and to give people the ability to customize their orders.”

“[Customers] want to personalize their meals and to enjoy eating in a contemporary, inviting atmosphere. And they want choices in how they order, choices in what they order and how they’re served.”

It is true that customization and choices are already fulfilled through human employees. What the automated cashier machines provide is the additional stability of a known and stable cost. A machine will never ask for an increase to a living wage — or any wage, for that matter.

Some people may think this will never happen, but McDonald’s already did this in Europe. According to CNET, McDonald’s “hired” 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties. They said the move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. However, that statement is very similar to what Don Thompson said about introducing automated cashier machines into U.S. restaurants too. Take into account that 7,000 people could have been cashiers, but McDonald’s opted for automation instead.

automated cashier machine
McDonald’s showed off one of their automated cashier machines at a show in France.

In conclusion, if a company truly is honest, they’ll be able to give a hike in minimum wage only if they constantly produce a surplus. That is the only way they can pull off such a feat. But with the mandating of the minimum wage to a living wage, companies may not have the time to figure out how to make a surplus but do know how to cut costs.

What are your opinions about McDonald’s flirting with the idea of automation to cut costs? Do you believe the mandated minimum wage hike will be a benefit or a curse to the American economy?

[Post images via Bing and McDonald’s]

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