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View Diary: Anti-minimum wage campaign boogey man tactics in California (67 comments)

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  •  I was at a major brand fast food place (6+ / 0-)

    recently to order an ice cream shake. I noticed an interesting new big box near the area where you order. It's a box that lets you order and pay without standing in line for an order taker. It's completely voluntary at this time. My guess is that they are starting to put this technology into the field to work out the bugs, get customer feedback, and have it ready for rising labor costs because of minimum wage increases or market forces. I imagine that in the near future you will be able to communicate with the box from your smart phone so that when you arrive you would just need to pick up your order, which would be ready to go.

    I wonder if anyone else has seen this technology deployed? I was at a Jack-In-The-Box in the SF bay area.

    I favor raising the minimum wage but there is no doubt that it will impact employment in some sectors, like fast food. However, it may provide enough economic stimulus that job growth in other areas will more than make up for it.

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 05:28:10 PM PDT

    •  If they can replace them with a box (7+ / 0-)

      then it's probably only a matter of time before they do it anyway.

      We didn't raise the minimum wage for supermarket checkout clerks, for example, but most have been replaced by self-checkout lanes.

      I suspect that even if we don't raise the minimum wage, at some point the cost of technology will come down below the cost of paying an employee.

      It's probably more a matter of "when" than "if".

      And if that doesn't scare you it probably should. We won't even be able to get crappy minimum-wage fast food jobs then.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 05:50:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some jobs certainly can be replaced now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, VClib

        But it's a matter of economics.  Putting in and maintaining those touchscreens costs something, too.  So, as long as labor is cheaper, employers will go with labor.  When labor becomes more expensive that the technology replacements, employers will go with technology.  That's basic economics.  

        •  And when enough of us get replaced (11+ / 0-)

          Then there will be no customers because nobody will have an income.

          Then the entire system will come crashing down - hard.

          That's basic economics.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 05:57:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Someone who owns a couple of McD's (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, VClib, Superpole

            franchises is not taking steps that will benefit the economy as a whole.  They are looking to see how they can keep their own profit margins on their own restaurants stable.  And when the add up the numbers, and it becomes more economic to replace some labor with technology, that's what they will do.  It's not any kind of vindictiveness toward workers.  It's business.  Business is about balancing revenue against expenses for an adequate return on investments.  When you significantly increase expenses, any for profit business is going to react to that.  

            You can certainly increase the minimum wage "modestly" -- the study I linked to in my original comment says that "modest" increases probably won't have a huge increase on employment levels, and the CBO estimates that an increase to $10.10 may only cost 500,000 or so jobs.  Still, that's 500,000 people who will be out of work.  And doubling the minimum wage certainly will cost a lot more jobs.  

            I would certainly support an increase in the minimum wage.  I would not support a nationwide increase so high that it has a big negative increase on jobs.  

            •  I wasn't talking about McDonalds specifically (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thanatokephaloides, eyo, BusyinCA

              I realize the thread deals with fast-food specifically but I was making more of a general statement concerning automation.

              That's the elephant in the room nobody's talking about in today's economy.

              500,000 out of work will be a drop in the bucket compared to what I fear is coming.

              If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

              by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:27:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And how do you propose to change that? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, VClib

                Very large increases in the minimum wage will only accelerate the trend toward automation replacing what economists call unskilled labor.  

                •  I didn't say I could change it (6+ / 0-)

                  Just because I can see a see a tsunami coming doesn't mean I know how to stop a tsunami.

                  It's not just unskilled labor. I haven't seen a navigator in many years and our last flight engineers retired last year.
                  I figure I'll be lucky to make it to retirement before they replace me with a drone.

                  I think many more skilled jobs will be either automated or sent offshore. A lot already have.

                  At some point I think this will hit "critical mass".

                  When that day happens we'll all be well and truly screwed.

                  Enjoy.

                  If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

                  by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:40:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  While Automation Causes Some Jobs To Be Lost, It (0+ / 0-)

                  also causes some jobs to be created - an example of this is, for example, candy production factories. With automation, you don't need as many people as you did 25 years ago producing candy - what used to be done by humans can now be done by machines -  but you DO need a person to run and service the machines that are used to produce the candy. Yes, I know - it replaces maybe 10 low skilled jobs with just 1 (usually technically skilled) job, but even automation can't entirely eliminate ALL jobs. Someone HAS to run and service the computers/machines.
                  Unfortunately, Major Kong is correct - unless we do something drastic in the US (like lower our age for retirement), we are on track to have a chronic high unemployment rate, due to increasing automation, as fewer and fewer low skilled workers will be able to find jobs.

                •  But We're Not Going to See (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Stude Dude

                  very large increases in the minimum wage-- on a national level.

                  the recommended raise to $10.10 per hour nationally is to occur over 2.5 years. this has yet to be passed by the deadbeats in congress-- and let's face it, it's not likely to pass this year, due to this being an election year.

                  further, I'm inclined to posit the min. wage is never going to be raised again on a national level, due to the overall inertia and ignorance present in congress.

                  The best we can hope for is city initiatives-- in cities where the economy is doing OK and where the demand for QSR and restaurant workers overall is high.

                  "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

                  by Superpole on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:05:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It's not "business," it is capitalism... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dumpster

              there are businesses all over the country and the world that make this calculation and still pay more for staff because of the need for customer satisfaction and security. If we would stand up to the businesses that treat us like drones and push their labor costs off on the customer, laughingly for the ostensible reason of customer convenience, then we would see less of this technology. It is not the businesses that kill jobs, it is the customers who shop at the businesses and accept this dreck, that kill jobs.

              "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

              by KJG52 on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 10:51:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  a concern troll expressing concern, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eyo, DBoon

              how................different. not really, just thought I'd say that.

              econ 101:

              increasing the supply of disposable income, at lower income levels, results in increased demand for products and services. in turn, this increased demand results in increased employment, as employers seek to serve the increased demand for their product/service.

              the bottom line:

              any unemployment, directly attributable to an increase in the minimum wage, will result in a decrease in sales of products/services, due to fewer employee's to handle them, absent increased automation. if the lost job doesn't affect sales, it pretty much means that the job wasn't needed to begin with, or the retained employee's have increased their productivity.

              employers don't hire just because they feel like it, they hire as a direct response to need. increased demand generates increased need. that's how economics works.

      •  Self Checkouts (10+ / 0-)

        My local Albertson's just tore out all their self checkouts. They told the cashiers the customers wanted more human interaction, but IMHO it's about inventory loss.

        The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

        by Grey Fedora on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:10:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So what do you think of the House Dems (0+ / 0-)

        new campaign agenda?

        Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

        by Mopshell on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:19:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly. It's basic economics. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, VClib

      People here tend to thing that fast food outlets or other people who employ a number of minimum wage workers "will just make less profit."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As this study says, "modest" increases in the minimum wage are probably something that employers can handle with modest price increases, but significant increases in the minimum wage will result in some employers cutting back on jobs, no question.  

      The trick is to find the "sweet spot" -- raising the minimum wage, but not enough to cause too many lost jobs.  

      After all, when you raise the labor costs of a local fast food franchise, the money has to come from  somewhere.  It's either going to be through price increases (but raising prices too high will decrease sales, so there's a "sweet spot" there as well), cutting expenses (and labor is one of the biggest expense for some of these local franchises) or a combination of the two.  

      •  Management could get smaller bonuses (7+ / 0-)

        Oh wait, silly me, that's never an option.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 05:55:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Spoken like someone who has never run (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, VClib, Superpole

          a business.  

          Remember, the vast majority of fast food restaurants you see are NOT owned by McD's, or Wendy's.  They are franchises, and are locally owned, and the margins are pretty slim.  So any "bonuses" to McD's CEO, for example, are completely irrelevant to the economic calculation.

           

          •  Then where does the bonus money (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, thanatokephaloides

            originate? Isn't it from the franchisees paying,maybe over paying, for the name brand? Maybe that franchisee should renogotiate or end the relationship. IOW,is a McD franchise actually worth it or is it only worth it as long as corporate lobbies keep wages absurdly low & subsidized by all taxpayers?  

            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

            by tardis10 on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:12:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Another statement that sounds like (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, VClib, Superpole, nextstep

              it's from someone who has never run a business.

              The franchise fees pay for things like the brand (and a brand like McD's has a HUGE value), national advertising, recipes, research into new products, etc.  If a franchisee just broke off from McD's and turned the building into "Joe's burgers,"  without any of the McD's products, a LOT of the customers would stop coming.  

              In the relationship, it's not the franchisee who can dictate the terms of the relationship.  McD's offers franchises on Mc'D's terms.  As long as there are a lot of people who want those franchises and thing they can make money from those franchises, McD's doesn't have any incentive to renegotiate the terms.  And if you spread the entire $9 million salary  of the CEO of McD's corporate across the 35,000 outlets, you come up with about $257 an outlet.  CEO salaries are a convenient target to rail at.  But rarely are they enough to make a real difference if you spread them over the whole company.  

              •  Well,'tis true I've never run a fast food joint (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thanatokephaloides, eyo, Australian2

                or paid my fellow workers so badly they qualified for SNAP.

                Your contention seems to be that a McD franchise is worth it because of the advertising and "brand". But is that brand worth as much if the product slides (a likely cost of automation) and/or the public turns against it (Boycott/Buycott,let's call the whole McD thing off)? When their devalued brand becomes Mcvalued with no super sizin' in sight?
                We can agree that as long as would be franchisees think McD is a winner (& vote with their $$$$$$$$$$) then McD's won't negotiate their contracts. Wonder how long that will last? Who buys these things anymore?

                The continued slump in May comes despite efforts to revive the Golden Arches brand. McDonald's Chief Executive Don Thompson, who is approaching his second anniversary at the helm, has said that McDonald's has lost relevance with some consumers and is trying to regain that.

                McDonald's has been focusing on improving staffing at busy times, updating Ronald McDonald and its Happy Meals and emphasizing its breakfast and coffee offerings.

                "McDonald's U.S. business is heightening its customer focus through service, value and menu initiatives to stabilize results," the company said. http://online.wsj.com/...

                The bottom line is simply this. There are similar businesses where the owners actually pay their staffs. If a McD franchisee can't do the same then something is extremely wrong with their business model because the costs of their goods & typically the quality are much lower. Maybe all that research and advertising is a boondoggle? I know the CEO pay is.  

                "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                by tardis10 on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 07:09:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Nope, never run a business (5+ / 0-)

            I'm just the guy who moves the freight. Without me it doesn't go.

            When that McD's franchise owner screws up, he takes a hit to his margin.

            If I screw up, there's likely a smoking crater where a neighborhood used to be, and I'd be in the middle of that crater.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:32:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The franchise owner's screw up can affect lives (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, VClib

              as well.  He screws up, and becomes unprofitable, then all the people working for him lose their jobs.  The people working for a business keep their jobs ONLY as long as the business makes a profit -- and enough of a profit to attract investment dollars.  If the business doesn't make enough of a profit, it closes and the employees lose their jobs.  

              And while it's not the kind of physical harm your screw up might cause, it's harm nonetheless.

              (And remember, of course, that if you screw up while you are on the job, your employer is the one that pays all those who are harmed by your screw up.)  

              •  if the franchise owner follows the McD (0+ / 0-)

                business model, it is nearly impossible for them to lose money, absent some internal/external influence that is not able to be accounted for. McD's won't even talk to you about a franchise, until they see site selection/location analysis. McD's don't just pop up randomly, like toadstools after a hard night's rain, $1,000's are invested, before the first shovel of dirt is tossed, making sure, to the best extent possible, that it will be a profitable location. this all takes place without anyone outside even being aware of it. if it turns out negative, that's the end, with no one else the wiser.

                when you buy a franchise, you buy everything from soup to nuts; design of the store, to the most sophisticated inventory control software there is.

                it's like the man said, only an idiot could possibly lose money by owning a (McD's franchise) bank. it's nearly that fool proof. that would be the same with almost any long-term successful franchise, they have it down to a science.

          •  You've obviously never run a business, ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eyo, Australian2

            especially a franchise business, either, the margins aren't that small in "fast food," and most Mc Donalds franchisees are chain owners themselves, the typical McDonalds franchisee, own 3 to 7 stores and is worth millions. The typical ROI on a McD's franchise is 10X purchase cost if sold after five years, so don't sell me the poor victimized small businessman BS.

            "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

            by KJG52 on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 10:58:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  KJ - do you have any data on that? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              coffeetalk, nextstep

              McD's franchise values can't increase 10X every five years for very long. That's more than a 60% annual IRR. If those returns were routinely available all the money in the world would be invested in McD's franchises.

              "let's talk about that" uid 92953

              by VClib on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:43:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Tying CEO salaries to workers' wages (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eyo, Stude Dude

          IS in the new campaign agenda.

          Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

          by Mopshell on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:24:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not sure what the legal basis could be (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mopshell

            for tying CEO pay to worker's wages. The proper public policy is to tax all high income earners more, not just corporate executives.

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:37:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did you check out the new campaign agenda (0+ / 0-)

              to see what it says about this? If not, you can find it here.

              Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

              by Mopshell on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:27:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Congress could deny a tax deduction for all (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nextstep

                compensation above $1 million. That is constitutional. It will never pass as long as the GOP holds the House. However, if it is passed I don't think it will have any material impact on either executive compensation or increasing the wages of the rank and file. At the Fortune 1000 the pay of the top five executives represents such a small fraction of total compensation expense for the entire corporation that the ability to deduct the compensation for tax purposes doesn't matter.

                "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                by VClib on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:50:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  RE: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, VClib, eyo

      I've seen this too in some locations in the Seattle area. Most of the time though, people just opt to order from a person because it's faster. Same thing goes for self-check. Sure, that may have eliminated the "express lane" for checkout clerks, you still need someone to help you scan and bag large volumes of groceries. I highly doubt that system will be in serious danger any time soon, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a technology developed that was able to autoscan many items at once.

      "If you don't turn onto politics, politics will turn on you" -Ralph Nader; 2000

      by Soviet Reunion on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 05:55:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am bemused (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thanatokephaloides

        (as others have noted) to watch groceries being checked & bagged by folks who make high incomes. Why it's as if the almighty market doesn't recognize the inherent value of their every laboring moment. Of course,eventually some rich can get rich enough to employ the poorer to trek to Costco for them. But not all,not quite yet.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:23:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hate using the self checkout (8+ / 0-)

          I figure if they want me to bag groceries they should put me on the payroll.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:41:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I use self-checkout when it's faster (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, VClib

            If there's a line at the regular checkout and it's faster to do the self-checkout, that's what I'll do.  

            Some, like my parents (and I love my parents, but they are not tech-savvy) will always use the traditional registers with a clerk. But they aren't the fastest at getting their groceries on the line, getting their payments done, and moving along, so when I see that's what the checkout line looks like, I'll do self-serve.  I suspect a lot of others do the same.  

            And my children's generation,of course, is even more tech-savvy than I am.  Often, they'd RATHER use a touch screen than deal with a person taking their order -- they feel like they have more control.  

            I am waiting for the phone app that allows you to put an order at the nearest McD's, have it pay automatically with a credit/debit card, and all you have to do is pass by and pick up your order a special drive-through window.  

    •  Scare tactics (6+ / 0-)

      They replaced the order taker. Just like they replaced the bank teller and the pump jockey.

      But someone still has to make your burger, fill the machines that dispense shakes and soft drinks, unload the delivery trucks, empty the trash; wipe the tables, mop the floor, clean the washroom, wash the windows; all not so easily automated tasks.

      The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

      by Grey Fedora on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:08:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree GF (0+ / 0-)

        Fast food will continue to automate every task that they can to reduce labor costs. The higher the labor costs, the faster the automation will take place. However, as you note there are many jobs in a fast food restaurant that can't be automated. And that's good.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:59:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, seen it in a noodle place here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, eyo

      but most people ignore it and head straight for the nearest human being.

      Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

      by Mopshell on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:18:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Order Kiosks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      are about faster customer service and convenience.

      I've used them at Wao Bao in Chicago. you place/pay for your order at the kiosk. if it's lunch rush hour and there are 6-7 people in line ahead of you, the food prep workers are working on your order while you wait on line, and have your order ready when you get to the counter.

      it's alot like using the drive up window at a typical QSR restaurant.

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:20:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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