Author Topic: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology  (Read 1450 times)

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Offline happyg

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Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« on: August 29, 2013, 11:54:43 AM »

Last week, the SEIU helped organize employee walk-outs at fast food restaurants in seven major cities, with the promise that more would follow in the future. The strikers demanded a $15 minimum wage, which represents a greater than 100 percent increase over the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The media has portrayed these strikes as a battle between minimum wage employees and highly-paid CEOs. This may make for an eye-catching headline, but it doesn’t mesh with reality: The strikers’ beef is actually with the price-conscious customers who frequent fast food restaurants. If the unions get their way with a $15 minimum wage, they will only hasten the day when a customer (or even a computer) performs a task that used to be part of someone’s job description.

This reality isn’t immediately intuitive. A number of commentators instead focused on the obvious question: Why don’t big fast food companies like McDonald’s just raise prices? One University of Kansas student even made national news with a “study” suggesting that a Big Mac would only cost 68 cents more if the hourly wage of the people serving it was doubled.

That university student wound up with egg on his face when it was shown (by my organization and others) that he had understated by roughly half the percent of sales that McDonald’s spends on labor costs. Re-doing his numbers yields a $1.28 price increase in the cost of a Big Mac—no small amount if you’re dining at the Golden Arches a few times each month.

But even this oversimplifies the situation. Restaurants avoid price increases because they reduce sales—which in turn requires an untenable cycle of even higher prices for remaining customers followed by even fewer sales. Absorbing the increase isn’t an option, either, because single-digit profit margins mean the money’s just not there. (Even if the CEO of a major restaurant company like McDonald’s took a 100 percent pay cut, the per-hour bump in pay for employees would amount to less than one cent.)

This is why wage mandates force restaurant operators to provide the same service with fewer employees, so that customers end up serving themselves instead of being served. Today, we might bag our own groceries at a supermarket checkout or pump our own gas at the station (except in New Jersey and Oregon, where it’s against the law). Even self-service soda refills were developed as a labor-saving device.

Today, many stores are also turning to robots to do the jobs that employees would otherwise do. This isn’t science fiction: San Francisco-based Momentum Machines recently announced a new robotic burger-flipper that does the work equivalent of three full-time kitchen employees. That’s 360 burgers per hour—and there’s no SEIU to organize a walkout.

This trend toward automation doesn’t just affect the kitchen. McDonald’s has installed touch-screen ordering terminals at 7,000 European locations. Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s younger brother has even started a new company that’s selling a tablet ordering device that reduces the need for as many waiters per shift. Casual dining restaurants are experimenting with similar technology, which would reduce the need for wait staff by one-third.

These changes don’t become inevitable until the cost of service gets trumped by customer resistance to higher prices. But once the jobs are automated, that’s one less entry-level position for a less-skilled employee to work his or her way up the career ladder.

The striking employees might be well-intended, but they’re only fighting the laws of economics — and that’s a fight they can’t win.

Michael Saltsman is the research director at the Employment Policies Institute.

— Michael Saltsman
http://www.epionline.org/oped/fast-food-strikes-ignore-technology/

Offline happyg

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 11:56:43 AM »
The strikers are in for a rude awakening. They might get their raises, but lose their jobs to technology. In some places, a person in India takes your orders.

Offline massadvj

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 12:13:48 PM »
I find it interesting that the one McDonald's they have so far succeeded in shutting down is in Detroit.  That pretty much says it all.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 07:31:10 PM »
They also are too damned dumb to know the unions will take the pay increase and they are right back where they started; bottom line these are supposed to be jobs filled by high school kids, not people trying to support a family!
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 07:32:36 PM »
Another thing.. almost forgot... they said on Fox this morning the "strikers" are rent-a-strikers, the workers all showed up for WORK today.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline happyg

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 07:33:52 PM »
Another thing.. almost forgot... they said on Fox this morning the "strikers" are rent-a-strikers, the workers all showed up for WORK today.

There's no one striking around here. I saw some of those pictures, and I wouldn't hire most of them.

I had a friend, who had no hs degree, get promotions at MD, and ended up being the manager. She made big bucks when she quit due to cancer.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 07:35:10 PM by happyg »

Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 09:15:15 PM »
Wow... wish you all got Glenn Beck TV (The Blaze) a black fast food resturant owner is filling in for Beck tonight and he is amazing!!!!  discussing small business and the effect of big business on small business and this union push to raise min wage and it's impact on small business... he said one thing many don't understand and he and other owners deal with daily - you hire people and they show up when they feel like it - if they have something better to do than work, they just don't show up, if you fire them you have to pay for that, too (unemployment insurance)...... he is talking about how these so called "Jim Crow" laws actually hurt blacks..........  l this man is great!  Fox needs him instead of Juan Williams!
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Oceander

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 09:31:04 PM »
Quote
This trend toward automation doesn’t just affect the kitchen. McDonald’s has installed touch-screen ordering terminals at 7,000 European locations. Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s younger brother has even started a new company that’s selling a tablet ordering device that reduces the need for as many waiters per shift. Casual dining restaurants are experimenting with similar technology, which would reduce the need for wait staff by one-third.

I could go for that!  Standing in line waiting to give your order to the person at the counter, having that wait lengthen each time someone fails to understand what the order-taker said, or wanted to quibble about having to pay 10 cents more for something, and the like, is a very unpleasant experience.  If I could instead place my order at McDonalds via something like seamlessweb, get a tracking number, and then be able to show up at the restaurant and pick my order up when my tracking number hits the top of the queue I'd be in fast-food heaven, relatively speaking.  After all, the order-taker is really just pushing keys chosen from a limited set of keys in order to enter an order; that's something that the customer could just as easily do themselves, particularly in this day and age.  The function of the order-taker is necessary, but paying a human employee to do that work isn't really a value-add function; automating the ordering process so customers could do it entirely by themselves would allow fast-food restaurants to focus their human employees on those tasks where a human-being really does bring value-add.

Since the strikers' demands are only going to increase the pressure on greater automation, they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces; however, I think I can support their strike, if for no other reason than that it means more of them will be out of work sooner rather than later, and will have their little noses rubbed hard in the soiled carpeting of socialist politics.

Offline kevindavis

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2013, 09:27:09 PM »
They also are too damned dumb to know the unions will take the pay increase and they are right back where they started; bottom line these are supposed to be jobs filled by high school kids, not people trying to support a family!

It is not about the workers, it is about the unions heads getting their fat paychecks
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Offline AbaraXas

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2013, 09:47:01 PM »
The technology is available and all it needs is to be adopted here.





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Offline Oceander

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2013, 10:06:09 PM »
The technology is available and all it needs is to be adopted here.








We used to have that technology in the 30s, and even up until the 70s.  It was called the Automat.


It definitely needs to be reintroduced.  Fast food was one of the forces that destroyed the old automated cafeterias; it would be the perfect irony if the new automated cafeterias destroyed fast food.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 10:07:15 PM by Oceander »

Offline flowers

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2013, 11:59:09 AM »
A bit of topic but not really. I was watching Mobsters on TV the other night. It is a weekly show telling the history of the mob. Anyhoo I didn't know that the mob was into unions.  Now in present time I see the lib/dem/mob is still into unions. I knew they were into it these days just didn't know it started way back in the 30's.



Offline Oceander

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Re: Fast Food Strikes Ignore Technology
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2013, 08:52:18 PM »
A bit of topic but not really. I was watching Mobsters on TV the other night. It is a weekly show telling the history of the mob. Anyhoo I didn't know that the mob was into unions.  Now in present time I see the lib/dem/mob is still into unions. I knew they were into it these days just didn't know it started way back in the 30's.



the teamsters were/are the poster-child for mobbed-up unions.


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