Wendy's Is Replacing its Human Workers With Kiosks Because of Minimum Wage

Wendy's Is Replacing its Human Workers With Kiosks Because of Minimum Wage
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Robots are coming for our jobs and they're starting with fast food restaurants. Wendy's is replacing cashiers with touch-screen kiosks where patrons can order food and pay, according to Chicago television station WFLD. The shift away from human workers come amid calls for a raise in minimum wage. 

One worker at a Chicago Wendy's told WFLD she was told the move would eliminate five jobs from the location. The company has more than 6,500 locations worldwide. 

The growing bot workforce comes as labor unions and workers campaign for a raise in the minimum wage. Chicago has passed and has begun implementing a wage hike. Workers in Chicago now make a minimum of $10 an hour, up from $8.25 an hour. The city plans to grow its baseline wage to $13 per hour by 2019. California, New York and the District of Columbia have also agreed to raise pay, according to the Wall Street Journal, and other states are following suit. 

Wendy's is not the only fast food restaurant to make the transition from man to machine. White Castle has been testing order and check out kiosks for the last two years. Meanwhile, McDonald's kicked off a machine-ordering pilot this year that allows customers at two Chicago locations order coffee drinks from a touch screen.  

The Employment Policies Institute reports wage hikes lead to jobs losses. "When labor costs go up, business owners can do one of three things: raise prices, cut costs or shrink their profit margins," wrote Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at EPI, wrote in an op-ed. "Given the consumer's insatiable demand for ever-lower prices, and the fact that most minimum wage employers operate with a profit margin of 2 to 5%, the only realistic option is to cut costs. One of the key ways to cut costs is to introduce automation or self-service," 

But as University of Oregon economist Tim Duy said in an interview with the Huffington Post, automation may be taking over regardless of the minimum wage. "Consider the issue of fast food employment," he said. "Some of those jobs, in particular the cashier, are almost about to be automated away regardless of what happens to minimum wages." 

To his point, lots of jobs have already been automated without the pressure of increased wages, like bank telling and certain factory jobs. Regardless of the catalyst for this rising tide of automaion, the result may be a shrinking number of low-skill paying jobs for Americans.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Ruth Reader

Ruth is a senior staff writer covering innovative technology and the people behind it. Send through pitches and tips to ruth@mic.com.

MORE FROM

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.

OJ Simpson granted parole after nine years in prison

After serving nine years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery, OJ Simpson was granted parole in a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Black Lives Matter activists respond to the police shooting of Justine Damond

“Some white people don’t feel the tragedy until one of them is murdered.”

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.

OJ Simpson granted parole after nine years in prison

After serving nine years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery, OJ Simpson was granted parole in a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Black Lives Matter activists respond to the police shooting of Justine Damond

“Some white people don’t feel the tragedy until one of them is murdered.”