Hit-Or-Miss Technology

Robots are Stealing All the Food Service Jobs

We’ll be lucky if robots only steal our jobs, rather than also enslaving civilization and mocking our weak sacks of soft-muscled frailty. Roughly 47 percent of jobs will be replaced by robots over the next 20 years, says one Oxford University study.

The fast food industry is specifically at risk, since labor and food costs represent 60-70 percent of industry revenues, according to a Cornerstone Capital Group report, while the recent national dialogue about a $15-hour minimum wage for quick service employees may speed things up.


And it’s already moving quickly. I mean, it seems like just yesterday I first saw servers using tablets instead of notepads. That’s been evolving too. Earlier this year, Olive Garden said it was going to install Ziosk tabletop tablets at all its restaurants by the end of 2015, so right there, tech’s limiting servers to basically just food runners.

But now robots are locking down kitchen gigs too! Hell, Momentum Machines went ahead and actually invented a burger-flipping robota step hopefully more toward Futurama than Terminator—and the bot can do up a burger every ten seconds. In short, the robot replaces three full-time kitchen employees, which is what the company’s founders intend to do. Why make employees more efficient when there’s money to be made selling “employees” to restaurants?


And there are a lot of jobs for those robots to take. We’re talking 2.4 million servers, about 3 million cooks and food preparers, and 3.3 million cashiers. It hasn’t exactly been a booming industry either. Since 1987, fast food eateries have grown at 0.3 percent per year, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That number is about to skyrocket if the government starts tracking robot employees, who never need vacation days, tips, or HR. So I hope you all enjoyed visiting your favorite server at that local country-themed family restaurant or rolling your eyes at every single server at Buffalo Wild Wings, because those days might be over soon.

Fast Food

Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Says $15 Minimum Wage is ‘Absolutely Outrageous’

Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis is not a fan of increasing the minimum wage to something more livable. He told CNN’s Poppy Harlow yesterday that increasing the minimum wage for workers in New York is “absolutely outrageous.”

On Thursday, New York state’s wage board recommended that fast food workers should earn at least $15 an hour by 2018 (New York’s minimum wage currently falls at $8.75 an hour, according to the NCSL).

Travis said it would negatively affect small businesses and franchises and prevent his multi-billion dollar company from hiring new people. He said:

“We’ve always been a supporter of reasonable increases in the minimum wage. You know? We think the minimum wage actually stimulates the economy, we think it’s good for lower-middle income employees and people in those categories.

“But this is absolutely outrageous. The increase is 71 percent that’s proposed over three years.”

Travis, who argued that most of his employees are teenagers rather than older adults struggling to find work in a challenging economy, explained that he does support a “living wage,” but considers $12 an hour to be a reasonable amount for a worker with a family at home.

But according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a living wage in New York is $12.75 an hour for a single adult and $18.30 an hour for two working parents with two children.

Rival fast-food chain Starbucks, however, hasn’t experienced any major problems with current wage hikes. While CEO Howard Shultz wasn’t a supporter of Seattle’s wage increase to $15 an hour, where Starbucks is based, his company has clearly weathered it just fine, posting a 2% increase in earnings per share despite store operating costs going up 18% from last year. Shultz told CNN that when you consider all the benefits that Starbucks provides its workers, they are still far above minimum wage.

Written by Jacob Wagner of NextShark


Restaurants Now Charging Customers, Servers For Minimum Wage Increases


In response to the recent minimum wage increase in Minnesota from $7.25 to $8, some restaurants have started tacking extra fees onto customer’s bills or taking them directly from servers’ tips to offset costs. The worst part? It’s all totally legal.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the .75 cent wage hike took effect at the beginning of the month, and is the first increase in the state in the past decade. To compensate, business owners like those at the Blue Plate Co. — which oversees eight restaurants in the area — have resorted to “creative” measures to keep costs down, such implementing a new credit card fee that will ultimately shave about 2 – 3% from servers’ tips each time a customer doesn’t pay with cash.

Another tactic used by the owner of the Oasis Cafe in Stillwater is a .35 cent “minimum wage” fee added on at the end of customer’s meals.

Locals, understandably, are pissed.

“Putting [minimum wage] fees on tickets and passing the cost on to consumers directly is strange at best, and creates an ‘us against them’ mentality while ordering dinner,” Wade Luneberg, secretary and treasurer of MN State Council of UNITE HERE Unions, told the Star Tribune.

“It’s just bad morale when [the owner] drives up in a Porsche, and yet he wants my 2 ­percent,” a Blue Plate Co. employee also said.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Dept. of Labor considers such loopholes perfectly legitimate, granted the deductions don’t result in workers making less than minimum wage. Which means, as long as we continue to live in this great, blue-blooded, capitalist-minded nation of ours, the future of higher minimum wages isn’t looking too bright. Go. Freaking. Figure.

H/T Jezebel


Starbucks to Sponsor Higher Education for Thousands of Employees

Here’s one way to deal with that whole minimum wage controversy.

It was revealed in a press release Sunday that coffee giant Starbucks would be partnering with Arizona State University (ASU) to pay college tuition for full and part-time employees who work 20 hours a week or more. Officially named the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, the program will allow qualified employees of company-operated stores (as well as employees of other Starbucks-owned brands like Teavana and Seattle’s Best) to be reimbursed for part or all their education, without requiring them to stay with the company post-graduation.

Eligible employees (dubbed “partners” in the official press release) who are able to meet ASU’s admission requirements will not only benefit from over 40 online undergraduate courses, but also academic advising, flexible scheduling, and other forms of support. Students admitted as juniors or seniors will receive a full-ride, while students with fewer credits will be eligible for partial scholarship and need-based financial aid.

Says CEO Howard Schultz:

In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American Dream. There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it. Supporting our partners’ ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make. Everyone who works as hard as our partners do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives.

Fast Food

Wage War: Global Fast Food Worker Protest Planned for May 15


The fight for higher pay for fast food workers continues, as employees and supporters from 150 cities across six continents plan a global protest on May 15, to coincide with demands to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour, over the U.S.’s current $7.25.

At a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, organizers from Fast Food Forward, which represents New York’s fast food workers, announced a series of demonstrations at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC locations to occur next week in 33 different countries, from Italy to Argentina. Projected protests include flash mobs, walk-outs, and sit-ins, with an estimated thousands of participants out of the U.S.’s approximate 4 million industry workers, says USA Today.

“We can’t survive on $7.25!” reads a headline on the Fast Food Forward website, which states that the current minimum wage is not enough to allow workers to afford “basic necessities,” such as rent and transportation.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Golden Arches HQ has been prepping for the protests since April and organizing its global and regional security teams nationwide to “monitor the situation.”


This is How Many Hours of Minimum Wage Work it Takes to Buy a Beer


Ever find yourself sitting at your desk, calculating what a day’s work will get you in beers? Of course you have. Gathering data on the average price of a domestic draft beer in different countries and the minimum monthly wage in different parts of the world, Quartz was able to create a comprehensive beer index.

After dividing the average price of a local brew by hourly minimum wage based on a 40-hour work week, they were able to find the approximate time it would take for someone to earn enough to buy a beer while making minimum wage. The results? Puerto Rico tops the list, as it take only 12 minutes to grab a beer. On the other hand, in Georgia it take half a day’s worth of work to rack up enough for a pint. The US fares off well at 24 minutes (priorities), while our neighbors upstairs average the same.

Check out the full spread below.


Picthx Quartz, wallsave


No Sh*t: McDonald’s Releases Chart Saying It’s Impossible to Live on a McDonald’s Salary

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 1.34.14 PM

McDonald’s wants their thousands of employees to know that anyone can survive on Mickey D’s minimum-wage paychecks . . . as long as they have a second job. And don’t buy food. And all of their expenses are way, way below the national average. Then they’re good to go.

Think we’re exaggerating? Take a look at McDonald’s step-by-step budgeting guide for their employees, most of whom are paid minimum wage to flip burgers and mop up gallons of “special sauce” from bathroom floors. McDonald’s partnered with Visa to create a bizarrely out of touch list of basic expenses that tells their employees to spend $20 a month on health insurance (for the record, McDonald’s cheapest health insurance plan charges employees $54 a month), $600 on rent/mortgage payments (average monthly rent in the United States is $804) and exactly $0 on heat (guess the employees at the twenty-one Alaskan locations are sh*t outta luck).

But wait, it gets better. Even after dramatically downplaying average monthly expenses, McDonald’s still couldn’t stretch the numbers enough to justify making a living on rock-bottom wages. So the list assumes that all McDonald’s employees have a second job that pulls $900 a month. And that they can survive without food, since the projected food budget is . . . nonexistent.

After taking a look at this list, we’re impressed by McDonald’s commitment to minimum-wage fantasyland. But we’re betting their employees would be more impressed with a raise. Peep the budget guide below.


H/T + PicThx Gothamist


NYC Restaurant Eliminates Tips, Offers Servers Benefits Instead


A New York city sushi restaurant is shaking things up by refusing to accept tips. Don’t worry though, it’s not a scheme to deprive servers of their hard-earned cash — Sushi Yasuda makes up for the lack of tips by providing its employees with a salary and a benefits package containing vacation days, sick leave, and health insurance. That’s a pretty sweet deal, especially in an industry where many servers work for as little as $2.13 an hour because of the belief that they make enough in tips to bridge the gap between pocket change and minimum wage. And Sushi Yasuda even includes a classy little disclaimer on their receipt so that customers don’t get confused by the unconventional system:


All in all, we’re impressed by Sushi Yasuda’s dedication to making a difference in the service industry. We’re not sure if their way of doing things will catch on in the rest of the good old U S of A, but we’d definitely be down to see more servers with vacation leave and sick pay. Keep on doing what you’re doing, Sushi Yasuda.

H/T + PicThnx ThinkProgress