Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif. (aka Gov. Gruesome) just scored a big victory for robot manufacturers. He signed into law a bill that guarantees fast food workers will be paid at least $20/hr. This means California now has the highest minimum wage nationally.
The new law won’t cover local mom-and-pop restaurants or small franchises with fewer than 60 locations nationwide.
But that doesn’t mean the effects of the law won’t be felt by small owners.
The upward pressure on wages caused by this law will mean every restaurant where workers don’t rely on tips to supplement their income will have to raise wages to keep current employees and attract new ones.
Forbes calculates the new minimum wage will raise the yearly salary of fast food workers to $41,600 from the current high of $34,530.00.
That's a lot of money for not much value-added.
Which brings us to the "Wingman."
Forbes reports, "Nala Robotics has launched a fast food robot that it says can fry chicken wings, French fries, and other foods, season them, and plate them all autonomously. It’s called the 'Wingman,' and it’s available to rent for $2,999/month."
The Wingman will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
- It doesn’t get sick
- It doesn’t have childcare drama
- It doesn’t want a vacation
And . . . It doesn’t have an attitude.
And right now the Wingman is cheaper than the cost of human employees.
At $15 per hour — just a dollar less than the current California minimum — the Wingman costs 63% less than having a human do the work.
At the new minimum rate of of $20 per hour, the savings approaches 70% over the human, "assuming 18 hours of operation per day over an average 30-day month. Naturally, restaurants that are open 24/7 will see even more savings."
And the Wingman isn’t the only competition for fast food sapiens.
"Flippy" is a hamburger-making robot, already in 100 White Castle locations "and other kitchen robots that are automating food processing, cooking, and presentation, particularly in fast food settings."
In fact, this new escalating minimum wage could make fast food jobs one of the lonelier occupations in the country. Like a lighthouse keeper with grease fumes.
With the backend jobs going to robots, the only humans needed will be those who are forced to defend themselves at the counter — like at Waffle House — clean up the interior of the restaurant and make sure the robots are supplied with raw materials.
Buck Jordan, who manufactures Flippy, told Forbes, if wages keep increasing, "Around year five or seven, you’re going to start seeing a lot of . . . a lot or all new-build kitchens being completely reinvented, fully autonomous, no humans in the back of house, 25% the square footage, probably fits in a shipping container, completely changing the entire industry and potentially disrupting the franchise model."
We predict, in the future, many of the current California fast food jobs will be held by robots. Other jobs will simply disappear when small owners can’t stay in business with the government setting the pay scale.
Or, customers refuse to pay the new prices resulting from the wage edict.
Which makes us wonder if the people who were cheering Newsom (or Gruesome, if you prefer) as he signed the bill will still be cheering a few years from now when fast food jobs are very well paid and very much fewer.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker's bureau. Read Michael Reagan's Reports — More Here.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)" Read Michael Shannon's Reports — More Here.