Politics: McDonald's testing automated cashiers ...that won't demand $15 per hour

Published by: Robert Laurie on Thursday August 14th, 2014

Robert Laurie

Still think that strike was a good idea? 

Regardless of where you are in the United States, if you stop into a McDonald's you know what to expect.  The buildings look fairly similar, the staff will be dressed in pretty much the same attire, and you'll be offered the chance to buy food that will make you spend the next four hours either sleeping or moaning as you regret your purchase. However, one location is very different.  It's in Romeoville IL, and it's next door to what's known as the "McDonald's Innovation Center." There, new products, procedures, and equipment are tested before it rolls out to the rest of the country.

'What kind of equipment,' you ask?  This kind:

 

McDonald's testing automated cashiers  ...that won't demand $15 per hour

Behold McDonald's new automated cashiers.  According to a variety of sources over on Reddit, the new machines are currently being tested and could soon roll out nationwide. The kiosks would presumably be quick, efficient, require new "green" and "teal" checkboxes on the employee diversity forms, and would never, ever, demand $15 per hour.

Contrary to what striking fast food workers may like to believe, McDonald's exits solely to turn a profit.  It's not a charity, and it's not there to "provide" them with jobs.  So, if it's facing a future where it's going to have to pay $15 an hour for completely unskilled labor, it's going to find a cheaper alternative.

That may be why McDonald's, and other fast food restaurants, have been using similar touchscreen systems throughout Europe for the last few years

As I (and everyone else) predicted, increased pressure to hike the wages of easily replaceable fast food employees would end one of two ways: either McDonald's would be forced to raise its prices to unsustainable levels or the company would find a way to operate with fewer people.  Since the former would destroy the business, the latter was always the obvious outcome.

...Oh, and by the way, if you're among those making the argument that this was "always going to happen anyway," what you're really arguing is: "these employees were always going to be rendered unnecessary because they're easily replaced by inexpensive machines." If that’s what you believe, you're making the case that they were never worth $15/hr. in the first place.

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