December 2 2013
Automation: The Future of Fast Food
On last night’s 60 Minutes, Amazon head Jeff Bezos unveiled a new delivery system for the massive online shopping site. Drones. That’s right, in about five years, an Amazon drone might be visiting your front door to drop off a your latest Amazon purchase.
Isn’t technology grand!
This is good news for consumers for several reasons. But mainly because automation like this will drive down product costs, as deliveries won’t have the associated labor costs added to the price. Another industry likely taking a hard look at automation this morning is the fast food industry, in order to reduce the headache that comes with labor—in this case, big labor-orchestrated protests and strikes.
The New York Times reports that big labor is behind the latest planned protests by fast food workers who on Thursday plan to strike in 100 cities to demand a whopping $15-an-hour wage.
The movement, which includes the groups Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, is part of a growing union-backed effort by low-paid workers — including many Walmart workers and workers for federal contractors — that seeks to focus attention on what the groups say are inadequate wages.
The fast-food effort is backed by the Service Employees International Union and is also demanding that restaurants allow workers to unionize without the threat of retaliation.
I’m not sure how the restaurant industry plans to handle this latest move by it's workers but as IWF Senior Fellow Patrice Lee put it a few months ago, these workers might just be protesting themselves out of a job.
Big labor is doing these workers a great disservice in not recognizing that the future of low-skill jobs is automation. Given these protests, I suspect (and hope) this industry plans to expedite plans to automate.