The “fight for 15” among minimum wage workers has been relentless recently, with protesters hitting the streets Tuesday in 340 U.S. cities.
One of the largest groups of minimum wage employees involved in the movement is fast food workers, many of whom work at McDonald's.
Former president and CEO of McDonald’s USA, Ed Rensi, responded to demonstrators demanding more money Tuesday by announcing in Forbes how the company will replace workers with “self-serving machines”:
"As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.
It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing."
In recent months, the fast-food giant unveiled its plans to install “self-service kiosks” where customers could place their order essentially on digital cash registers. Some kiosks have already been implemented in more than 500 restaurants in Southern California, Florida, New York City and overseas locations, according to the Los Angeles Times.
New age Beijing McDonald's accepting Wechat Pay, Alipay and Apple Pay at self order touchscreen stations pic.twitter.com/09bzcp9rUS
— Eva Dou (@evadou) March 29, 2016
Rensi warned it's not just McDonald's that's embracing the new technology:
“Numerous restaurant chains (both quick service and full service) have looked to computer tablets as a solution for rising labor costs that won’t adversely impact the customer’s experience. Eatsa, a fully-automated restaurant concept, now has five locations—all in cities or states that have embraced a $15 minimum wage. And in a scene stolen from The Jetsons, the Starship delivery robot is now navigating the streets of San Francisco with groceries and other consumer goods. The company’s founder pointed to a rising minimum wage as a key factor driving the growth of his automated delivery business.”
The former CEO also explained earlier this year that the minimum wage hike would not help, but rather would hurt, McDonald's employees. Rensi said it would “wipe out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options.”