#Fightfor15 backfires: McDonald’s considers replacing workforce with robots


I remember my first job. It was working for McDonald’s, I kid you not.

However, it’s looking like times are changing. We might be saying “good-bye” to the day when high school seniors flipped burgers so they can buy Pokemon cards. The recent push for a massive jump in minimum wage has caused McDonald’s to seriously consider employing robots to replace their crew members. And considering the logistics behind it, it might actually be a pretty good move for McDonald’s.

I don’t know how expensive some of the robots they’re considering may be, but here’s some numbers to crunch:

Minimum wage may increase to $15 per hour.
A full-time work week is 40 hours.
There are about 52 weeks in a year.
Therefore, a full-time worker at the proposed minimum wage would make $31,200.00 per year.

If just one robot set McDonald’s back $60,000, it would end up paying for itself in less than two years. That would be a serious bargain. But there’s more. Employing robots can result in the following benefits:

  • Robots won’t complain about working overtime, nor would they demand more pay for it.
  • The only benefits that they’d require is routine maintenance.
  • They won’t goof off to go on Twitter to complain about their job or accuse their boss of being in some “old boy’s club”.
  • They won’t complain about special orders.
  • No showing up late. Showing up late is for humans.
  • They’re not going to have a bad day or decide to hate their jobs, so they’re always going to be polite to the customers.

And there’s more. If they can find some robots cheap enough that can accomplish the same tasks as humans, something which is becoming easier to do, McDonald’s stands to benefit from employing robots.

I know that some McDonald’s crew might mind losing their jobs to some robots. Me, I have my own reasons for thinking that a minimum wage increase is a terrible idea. I’ve worked minimum wage and close to it long enough to understand the kind of damage that minimum wage increases do to the value of money. The government might force employers to pay their staff a higher wage. But nothing is preventing renters, retailers, and utility providers from charging more for their products and services. When there is a minimum wage increase, the cost of stuff starts shooting up.

And why wouldn’t it? Businesses have a harder time making ends meet when they’re forced to pay their staff more, and increasing the costs of products and services is a natural way of trying to offset an increase in the cost of running a business. People would have more money anyway, so if they were able to pay for it before, they’d be able to pay for it at the adjusted rate.

So, in summary, we’d be payed more, but…

  • …We’d be charged more for everything, too.
  • …The value of the money itself would plummet, which would be tough nuggets if you’ve been trying to save the stuff.
  • …There’s no guarantee that there’d be a rate increase for skilled workers, so if you went to school to do what you do, it might become harder for you to get by.
  • …And you might end up losing your source of income to a robot, in which case, you’d actually end up making less.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve lived as a poor person for quite some time, so I know how these things go. The idea that poor people would benefit from a minimum wage increase is a myth. However, it’s getting to the point that even fast food workers are having to compete with robots. That humans have been less expensive to hire has long been a selling point, but it looks like that’s changing.

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