From the socialist-leaning Slate.com:
In short, apparently a few days ago there were strikes by McDonalds workers demanding to be paid a rather remarkable $15/hour for work that can be done by wholly unskilled junior high students based on a few minutes training. Slate thinks that these strikes have really helped the Union movement.
You want to know who these strikes probably really help? Hmmmm…
Right now, a robo-burger-flipper is a more expensive prospect than a pimply teenager. But consider: the unskilled labor is apparently getting more expensive, but it is *not* getting more skilled. I’m old enough to remember when the checkout clerk had to stab *numbers* on the cash register to ring up the price; now they hit buttons with the pictures of the items. I’m pretty sure I can do that myself. And the question then becomes… why *shouldn’t* I do that myself? Turn the machine around 180 degrees. I order up what I want, swipe my card, and the order goes to the back for processing. Easy.
And while the human labor is becoming more expensive and no more skilled, the robots are getting better and cheaper. At some point the trend lines will cross, and the humans will no longer be needed to punch a picture of a burger or put mayo on a bun.
Robots have other advantages:
1) They work 24/7
2) They don’t call in sick
3) They don’t get surly and insult the customers
4) They don’t steal from the company
Sure, the robots will require that new staff be hired… someone will need to do maintenance and fix inevitable breakdowns and screwups; someone will be needed to simply keep the machine supplied. But at least in the first case, the maintenance tech will have to actually be skilled labor. Someone actually worth hiring. Maybe even a job worth unionizing. But the surly burger flippers and register drones? Bye-bye.
So, now we’ll have armies of useless high schoolers with no job experience whatsoever, and no starter jobs waiting for them if they try to go to college. So… whole new crops of the permanent underclass.
Way to go, unions!