Here is a personal opinion letter/piece that I wrote for rebuttal to Andy Puzder and Rensi. I was deliberately ruthless and demonstrative for effect. I also sent to the Washington Post and may send to some more. I also published as personal letter on the Kiosk industry group site.
Letter to Washington Post Job Killing Kiosks
I am the executive director of a kiosk industry group association that specializes in self-service in all industries.
This is in response to the recent news items by Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder and Ed Rensi, former president and CEO of McDonalds declaring that self-order automation in fast food industry is a “consequence” and a matter of time if we “foolishly” increase the minimum wage.
That is simply not true.
Neither one of them has, to any degree, or wants – to implement modern automation for customers. What they want is to maintain the status quo and use self-order automation as a bully club of sorts. Almost a threat.
The status quo? It is generally lowest paid minority and immigrant (legal and illegal) workers, not unlike field workers in early California days. Hispanic and black predominantly. Virtual slave labor to be harsh. That is the model for their fast food restaurants which the majority they franchise and franchisees factor for their ROI.
Both minimum wage increases and automation “disrupt” that model and make waves for them. They are protecting that model. Not unlike Hearst protecting the paper mills when hemp was shown to be a superior newspaper print medium than cutting down trees. Outlaw hemp and the mills made money.
Meanwhile small business gets left behind, again. They cannot afford the investment for self-order and an high minimum wage is difficult at best for them.
Automation creates a ton of jobs all the way across the food chain (so to speak) from metal fabricators, engineers, service techs, salespeople and many many more. How many jobs does automated checkout at Walmart account for at NCR? Tens of thousands. Panera’s is a great example of modern thinking in the food industry.
How many jobs does Amazon and Bezos create, foster and necessitate? Those automation jobs in the warehouses (even with the automation) count. Those jobs and skills do require training and education.
Has McDonalds in Europe, in their corporate-owned restaurants, seen a reduction of labor due to self-order? No. They have increased employment.
Puzder and Rensi are change-agnostics. They like it the way it is. The old way. McDonalds is changing for the good. CKE may be glad Puzder is leaving.
There is indeed a shift towards more automation in the public space. That certainly redefines workers in the public space as well.
I’m from the south and when I was 14 in 1969 my mother took me to the Arkansas bottomland near Fort Smith and had me pick peas and cut cabbage for $5 a day. We did it one week in the summer. That was a lesson in minimum wage I never forgot. I went to school and that is the best thing minimum wage can do.