Former McDonald’s CEO Says Robots Will Replace Human Workers If Minimum Wage Is Increased To $15 Per Hour

A former McDonald’s CEO and president claims that, if the minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour across the nation, companies hiring “entry-level employees” will opt to use robots instead of human workers. Ed Rensi, McDonald’s CEO from 1991 to 1997, spoke out against a minimum wage increase as McDonald’s employees prepared for the #FightFor15 protests outside of the McDonald’s headquarters.

Fox Business reports that Rensi is destroying the dreams of #FightFor15 protesters by pointing out that, while employees are demanding a $15 per hour wage, they are neglecting to consider what it will be like when employers offering “entry-level jobs” begin replacing human employee with robots.

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”

Rensi claims that with robots entering the workforce, it will make it incredibly difficult for entry-level workers to find employment, and the job loss created by the robots would devastate the country. While a variety of businesses have replaced human workers with automated robots – such as ordering kiosks – Rensi says that a minimum wage push is all that is needed to ensure that jobs providing entry-level employment move more quickly to exchange human employees for efficient robots.

“Well if you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work. It’s just common sense. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it’s going to happen faster.”

In other words, Rensi is pointing out that companies creating “robot workforces” are already pushing their products on business that cater to the entry-level market. If the minimum wage is increased and the human workforce becomes more expensive, Rensi believes it will just be “common sense” for franchises and businesses to make the move to getting rid of a portion of human workers in favor of robotic replacements.

The Business Insider notes that Rensi’s statements came shortly before protesters were slated to appear before the McDonald’s headquarters to demand an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, Rensi wasn’t just speaking about McDonald’s. In fact, a variety of restaurants – such as Panera, Burger King, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s – have all rolled out the use of ordering kiosks at stores across the United States in a bid to decrease labor costs.

McDonald's protests minimum wage
A fast food worker joins protesters calling for a union and pay of $15 an hour outside a McDonald's restaurant in Chicago. (Image by Teresa Crawford/ AP Photo)

Rensi points to the automation you see at airports such as check-in kiosks and self-checkout lanes at the grocery store as proof that businesses offering entry-level jobs are looking at other means to cut costs as labor fees increase. He notes that the fast food industry isn’t going anywhere. However, the jobs typically associated with the establishments may soon be a thing of the past, as these low-cost providers look into robotic ways to keep costs at a minimum.

What do you think of Ed Rensi’s statements that increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour will kill the entry-level job market? Will business opt to replace human employees with robot counterparts if the minimum wage is increased? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Image by Richard Vogel/ AP Photo)