It appears that the Fight for $15 has transformed into a veritable uphill battle: McDonald’s just announced that its shares have reached an all-time high, a milestone that coincides with its decision to replace 2,500 cashiers across the United States with automated ordering kiosks.
The fast food goliath’s shares surged 26 percent this year compared to the S&P 500’s 10 percent return, a banner result that has been credited to McDonald’s forward-thinking approach to technology upgrades, CNBC reported.
Under the umbrella of McDonald’s so-called “Experience of the Future” strategy, corporate plans to roll out mobile ordering across a whopping 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017 in addition to the 2,500 restaurants that will eventually be home to digital ordering kiosks.
“MCD has done a great job launching popular innovations within the context of simplifying the menu, while introducing more effective value initiatives that have recently begun to improve the brand’s value perceptions,” wrote analyst Andrew Charles from Cowen in a note to clients.
In a statement, McDonald’s made sure to clarify that the kiosks are not “labor replacement” per se.
“They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service roles such as concierges and table service where they are able to truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience,” a spokesperson said.
Instead of placing their order through a human cashier, customers at digitized McDonald’s locations can handcraft their meals via a touchscreen display that allows them to customize each component of their dishes.
Fight for $15 advocates, whose campaign for a $15 minimum wage has focuses largely on the restaurant business, have decried the spread of automated jobs within the food service industry. They claim that the federal minimum wage has been outpaced by inflation and cost-of-living increases and believe that employers have a moral obligation to pay their employees wages that allow them to live comfortably.