In a clearly orchestrated move, 28 McDonalds employees from around the nation filed health and safety complaints against their employer Monday, claiming they were severely burned while working and told by managers to treat the wounds with condiments. The employees were assisted in this effort by the “Fight for $15” campaign, a program launched by the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU has been attempting to unionize fast food workers, and as part of a broader effort, trying to get independent franchisees declared as “joint employers” so as to facilitate that process and gain access to the much deeper pockets of the franchisors.

One former employee claimed that “when rushing to meet her managers’ demands, she severely burned her arm on a hot grill.” According to the woman, “The managers told me to put mustard on it, but I ended up having to get rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.” Fight for $15 cites “statistics” that say 79 percent of fast-food workers report they have been burned in the last year, with one third claiming they have been told to treat burns with condiments like mustard or mayonnaise. I don’t know if you realize it, but this is indicative of an even bigger issue.

The food we eat is apparently both managed and prepared by complete imbeciles. Not to mention food costs are going to skyrocket with all that medicinal condiment repurposing. For the safety of all these clearly incompetent people, as well as their ignorant management, we need to automate those jobs as quickly as possible. Fortunately for them, that is what is likely to happen from their efforts.

I wrote earlier of the ongoing misguided attempts to extort a $15 minimum wage out of employers, pointing out that everything being relative, a minimum wage at any level is still a minimum wage. Where the efforts should be directed to motivate people to develop skills beyond what were supposed to be entry level jobs, these people are being duped into believing that a $15 an hour wage will elevate them into a different status and new lifestyle; as if there would be no impact on the economy around them. In fact, the biggest change they will likely see with a successful push to $15 an hour is that the economies of automation at that level will eliminate many of their positions.

One company, Momentum Machines, is already developing a robotic hamburger maker. They are creating a kitchen in a stainless steel box; a “hamburger-making machine that churns out made-to-order burgers at industrial speeds”. All the raw, unsliced, un-diced ingredients go in one end, and up to 400 burgers an hour can come out the other. The company estimates that at CURRENT labor costs, the investment in a single machine can be recovered within a year. Tie that technology to already available self serve order kiosks and self dispensing soda machines; as well as something I call the Wilson Fantastically Fabulous Freezer French Fry-U-Later, and you really have something. 

Food prepared quickly, safely and properly, all using English I can understand. But don’t worry, these automated systems will be able to serve customers in a variety of languages.

I should also point out that 79% of robots don’t get burned annually, saving apparently on condiment costs.

While workplace injuries are indeed a serious thing, claims of this magnitude, in my opinion, clearly are not. I don’t know where SEIU and Fight for $15 get their statistics, and we have no way of validating the claims. However, it is possible that every year a high percentage of fast food employees do get burned on the job. I worked in fast food for 5 years, both in high school and the first two years of college. I know got a small burn here and there from bumping into equipment or being splashed by something hot. They were minor, and I never felt the need for Federal intervention. Plus, my bosses were good people. They never told us to use mustard, primarily because we were a Mexican food facility. Hot sauce on a burn is much zazzier, believe you me. I realize that these incidents happen, and employers must be diligent in caring for their employees, but to elevate these occurrences to a conspiratorial level is not serving anyone well – most notably the minimum wage workers being misled with this effort. 

I sincerely doubt that anyone has told them that unions greatly support these efforts since their own contracts are tied to the minimum wage as a base. This means a win by fast food workers gives an automatic raise to many higher paid union workers. That surely is worth sacrificing a few low end jobs for “the greater good”.

Personally, I will miss the nipple pierced multi-tattooed freakfest who hands me the wrong order at the drive-thru. Having my bagged Double Decker Taco Supremes shot at me with an air cannon as I drive by won’t feel the same, but the order will likely be right. 

Plus I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that no humans were harmed during the making of my lunch.

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