(National Sentinel) Labor Technology: The quest for labor activists and unions to drive up the government-mandated minimum wage to $15 an hour embodied in the “Fight for 15” campaign nationwide continues to have a negative effect on the employment of human beings.
With increasing frequency low-wage, low-profit-margins businesses are replacing workers with robots when and where they can, because the latter don’t complain, call in sick, lie, steal, bring drama to work, or chronically underperform.
This robot revolution is especially catching on in the fast-food industry. And as reported by the Washington Free Beacon, one food chain to most recently make the transition to more non-human labor is Shake Shack, once praised by President Obama for paying high entry-level wages:
In 2014, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden dropped into a Washington, D.C., Shake Shack in a photo-op designed to boost the administration’s calls for a $10.10 minimum wage—a 40 percent hike over the federal minimum of $7.25. The pair ate lunch with four workers, dining on burgers and fries.
When asked by the press pool why the pair chose the DuPont circle fast food eatery, Obama cited its wage practices, saying it had “great burgers and pays its employees more than 10 bucks an hour.”
A forthcoming Shake Shack location in New York City—where the Obamas are looking to live in retirement—plans to open with a workforce of robots rather than human employees, according to the New York Post. A restaurant set to open in the East Village will be staffed with robot ordering kiosks, which do not accept cash. Diners will place orders on apps and receive alerts via text message with a few “hospitality champs” on site to address potential tech glitches in the new machinery.
“The Astor Place Shack will be a playground where we can test and learn the ever-shifting needs of our guests,” Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti told the New York Post. “[It] represents our dedication to innovation and to providing the best for our guests and for our teams.”
One bright spot: Franchise officials said that remaining workers’ pay will go up to $15 an hour, but it sounds more like they’ll be technicians, not burger-flippers. And again, that wage will only be for those lucky enough to find jobs in restaurants with far fewer human employees.
The robot revolution was coming anyway, but it is being hastened by outsized wage demands for low-skilled jobs in low-profit-margin industries.
“This is why the economic fantasies of Barack Obama and the ‘Fight For $15′ just aren’t practical when confronting the reality of running a business in 2017,” said AR Squared spokesman Jeremy Adler. “As economists have been saying for years, the impact of dramatic minimum wage increases is fewer jobs and economic opportunities for working people, as Shake Shack is demonstrating today.”
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