Today, in the latest escalation by minimum paid restaurant workers who demand greater wages, Fast-food workers and labor organizers are set to turn out in support of higher wages in cities across the country Thursday and walkouts are planned in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. While it's not clear what the actual turnout will be, how many of the participants are workers and what impact they'll have on restaurant operations, it is possible that your 99 cent lunch may be delayed or outright cancelled today.
The actions would mark the largest showing yet over the past year. At a time when there's growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labor unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
In New York City, about 100 protesters carrying signs, blowing whistles and beating drums marched into a McDonald's at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn't look up from eating and reading amid their chants of "We can't survive on $7.25!"
It seems trying to persuade these minimum wage workers to enjoy what they have - namley that corporations have all the leverage while unskilled, undereducated employees have none (the Service Employees International Union represents more than 2 million workers, on the other hand there are 91 million non-unionized workers out of the workforce) and that any increases in wages would simply be passed on to other consumers, and certainly result in broad terminations to keep the SG&A line flat - is probably a moot point.
So instead the strikers were met with something a bit more persuasive: brute Police force.
Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until the police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 more minutes while a handful of customers remained inside. A McDonald's manager declined to be interviewed and asked that customers not be bothered.
Tyeisha Batts, a 27-year-old employee at Burger King, was among those taking part in the demonstrations planned throughout the day in New York City. She said she has been working at the location for about seven months and earns $7.25 an hour.
"My boss took me off the schedule because she knows I'm participating," Batts said.
Considering there are a few hundred thousand applicants for your position , Ms. Batts, we find that perfectly explainable. Then again, if you are unhappy with your position, you are welcome to quit and find a better paying job. Especially since in the very near future you may not even have the option of choosing, as it will be done for you. Earlier this week, restaurant chain Applebees unveiled what may soon be the "Waiter Terminator."
From the company's press release: "Applebee’s steps into the future to redefine and enhance the guest experience through the installation of 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel, on every table and multiple bar positions at more than 1,800 Applebee’s restaurants in the United States by the end of next year."
The LA Times reports:
The E La Carte Presto tablets – powered by Intel – will allow patrons to pay from their seats while also adding food and beverages to their existing orders. A pilot program helped customers save time, according to Applebee’s Glendale-based parent DineEquity.
“Let’s face it, everyone who has ever been to a restaurant has been frustrated by waiting for their check,” said Mike Archer, Applebee’s president, in a statement.
Eventually, the gadgets will also feature an expanded lineup of games, video streaming capabilities, music options, gift card sales and social media interaction. The Presto tablets, which were developed at MIT, have been “ruggedized” to deal with the spills and rowdy children common in such restaurants, according to the company.
And the punchline:
In the pilot program, the Presto tablets not only significantly reduced transaction times for guests, but also provided them a better overall experience, based on their feedback. By simplifying the transaction process and allowing guests to control the timing, Team Members were able to provide better service and more attention to guest needs throughout the dining experience, rather than focusing on delivering a check.
Also, much more time to work on their resume. In other words, Applebees is already taking steps at outsourcing its minimum wage waiters with tablets. Which incidentally is a brilliant idea, especially in a cost-cutting environment. So brilliant in fact that others are already joining in..
DineEquity said it might consider introducing the tablets at its IHOP restaurant chain as well. The company joins many others in the industry that have begun incorporating technology into the customer experience, installing ordering kiosks, equipping servers with mobile devices and more.
In other words, a funny thing happened as fast food workers were striking across the land - they were all just made obsolete courtesy of iPads.