(Brent A. Jones) – OK folks, let’s try a little Math 101…
If you jack up the “minimum” wage – which should honestly be called the entry level wage – to $15 per hour and a teen or college student who prepares salads in a restaurant works 40 hours per week and 50 weeks per year (two weeks of paid vacation time), the raw cost to the employer would be $30,000.
That does not include benefits or matching contributions to the employee’s Social Security account or the cost of unemployment insurance.
Or you could hire “Sally.”
Sally is relatively short and small – about the size of a “dorm room refrigerator” – and “uses 21 different ingredients – including romaine, kale, seared chicken breast, Parmesan, California walnuts, cherry tomatoes, and Kalamata olives – to craft more than a thousand types of salad in about 60 seconds, while the customer watches.”
In case you haven’t guessed, “Sally” is a robot. And she’s expected to debut at a Mama Mia’s restaurant in Santa Clara, CA this month.
“Consumers simply place their bowl in the salad dispensing area and select different options on a large touch-screen positioned in front of the machine,” explains The Daily Mail. “The caloric count will be highlighted towards the bottom of the screen, showing users how many calories are being added as you select different toppings in the system.”
Here’s the kicker…
“Sally does not need any help from human workers when it comes to prepping the ingredients that are dispensed – all a human has to do is fill up the containers.”
Her cost? $30,000.
“A few things I love about robots,” chef Charlie Ayers told Bloomberg News, “is that they don’t come in late, they don’t talk back, and they’re always accurate. And the labor savings.”
And there it is! No $15 per hour. No Social Security payments. No unemployment insurance. No paid vacation time. No paid sick leave. No health insurance payments. No retirement plan.
Like Flippy the robot hamburger flipper, Sally the salad maker is expensive – but not as expensive as politicians are making it to hire workers in the restaurant industry.
Though some restaurant owners will prefer to keep human employees, if the government continues to make employing such workers cost-prohibitive, the loss of entry level jobs in the food industry is only going to accelerate. Flippy and Sally – and who knows what’s next – will replace them.
Nevada legislators in Carson City should take that into consideration before passing so many anti-business/anti-employee bills for the remainder of this session.
Mr. Jones is a former Nevada State Assemblyman, owner of Nevada-based Real Water, and president of Nevada’s REAL Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org