Wendy's to replace workers with machines due to rising minimum wage

Another big fast food chain will soon ask customers to use a touch-screen computers to place orders and pay.

- Another big fast food chain will soon ask customers to use a touch-screen computers to place orders and pay. 

Wendy's says the move will cut costs, and it's also likely to cut thousands of jobs.

Britni Johnson said she works at the Clark and Madison Wendy's. She said employees were told five jobs will be eliminated by new self-service kiosks.

“They're going to find us new places. They're just going to place us somewhere else. So, we're not actually out of work. We're just out of work here,” Johnson said.

Touch-screen kiosks are spreading fast, especially in Chicago and other places where politicians responded to the union-led "Fight for 15" campaign by raising the minimum wage. Some have also imposed new mandates, such as paid sick time and family leave. Top executives at Wendy's warned last year that such rising costs would force them to automate and eliminate thousands of jobs.

“That's how economics works. Employers will find ways to become more efficient. And so we disagree with the advocates who say that these policies will help people over time. We're seeing just the opposite,” said Tanya Triche of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Some fast-food regulars welcomed the computers, predicting they would improve the quality of service at Wendy's.

“Everything will be right and they won't mess up the orders for themselves,” said customer Jin Ko. “It happens to me quite frequently!

Others, though, said they would refuse to use the kiosks hoping to force Wendy's to keep more staff.

“They're trying to beat up on the small guy. And the small guy doesn't have a chance. He doesn't have a voice,” said Joh Davit.

“I think they can cut costs elsewhere,” Jose Rosales added.

Wendy's is not requiring franchisees to install the new self-service kiosks. But if just half of its 6,000 restaurants do and eliminate 5 jobs at each outlet, 15,000 jobs would disappear.

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