McDonald’s CEO To Shareholders: No Plans To Replace Employees With Robots Yet

Image courtesy of dsuniaga

As governments and traditionally low-wage jobs raise their minimum wage or starting pay for employees, McDonald’s will be forced to pay higher wages to employees. That might cause the company to use more automation, perhaps replacing employees with robots, right? At today’s shareholders’ meeting, CEO Steve Easterbrook assured employees that robots will not be taking over. Probably.

McDonald’s, of course, runs on a franchise model, and doesn’t actually own or operate most of its restaurants. Yet some of the company’s innovations, like the Create Your Taste burger-ordering kiosk, would replace humans, but people would still cook the burgers and even bring diners their fancier food at their tables.

“Ultimately we’re in the service business,” Easterbrook said. “We will always have an important human element.” Easterbrook says that the company would prefer to shift humans to jobs in the dining room or interacting with customers.

Higher pay for fast-food workers was a major topic of discussion during the meeting because the nationwide Fight for $15 movement, backed by the Service Employees International Union, organized a massive protest outside of McDonald’s headquarters in the Chicago suburbs.

The group bussed in workers from across the country, and seeks a higher minimum wage, the right to unionize, and better working conditions for low-wage workers in a variety of service jobs. For the third year in a row, the company’s headquarters shut down during the day of the annual meeting due to the presence of protesters.

McDonald’s CEO says $15 hourly wage, robots won’t kill jobs [Reuters]