The “Fight for 15” movement has been staging protests for the last few years, insisting that fast food workers get a minimum wage of $15 dollars. They don’t care about the economic reality of their demands, they just want what they want. They also refuse to understand that being a fast food cashier is a starter job, not a career.
Many people warned them that their demand would have a negative impact on these jobs, as business owners would look for ways to work around them. That time has arrived.
Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi writes at Forbes:
Thanks To ‘Fight For $15’ Minimum Wage, McDonald’s Unveils Job-Replacing Self-Service Kiosks Nationwide
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.
Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk.
This was always more about the unions than the workers. As large unions like the SEIU lost members and political bargaining power, they sought to inflate their ranks with fast food employees because it’s such a large segment of workers. It got the unions a lot of publicity but in the end, it is young people seeking a first job who will be hurt.
Here’s the bottom line:
The out-of-state labor groups who funded these initiatives aren’t shedding tears over the consequences. Like their Soviet-era predecessors who foolishly thought they could centrally manage prices and business operations to fit an idealistic worldview, economic reality keeps ruining the model of all gain and no pain. This brings me to my last correct prediction, which is that the Fight for $15 was always more a creation of the left-wing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rather than a legitimate grassroots effort.
It’s just further evidence that the left claims to care about the working man, but really doesn’t.