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Labor

More regulatory whiplash. Our newsletter two days ago reported on an action by the New York City Council, which has proposed rules that would significantly improve working conditions for fast food workers in the city. A ray of sunshine?

Puzder has been railing against increased personnel costs in his industry for a while now.

These rules would certainly not be to the liking of the CEOs of large fast food companies. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the President-elect is likely to name one of these execs–Andy Puzder, who heads Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burgers chains, with 200 franchisees in the United States running 2,000 restaurants and employing 75,000 people–to a cabinet position. Which position is that? Uhmmmm….  Secretary of Labor.

Puzder has been railing against increased personnel costs in his industry for a while now, going after the Affordable Care Act and particularly increased minimum wage laws (like the ones New York City workers are looking forward to). As he points out simply in a JournaI Op-Ed two years ago: “The feds can mandate a higher wage, but some jobs don’t produce enough economic value to bear the increase.”

Puzder has been increasingly attracted to the idea of replacing consumer-facing employees with automated kiosks. “If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive—this is not rocket science,” he told Business Insider last spring.

He went on to say, “You order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.” Just think of the easing of the burden on your HR department! Kiosks are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.” A boon for a Labor Secretary managing the future labor force, don’t you think?

On the other hand, Puzder does have a use for flesh-and-blood bodies, particularly of the hot-blooded, throbbing, writhing, female variety, when it comes to promoting his man-burgers. As he explained to Entrepreneur, “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” So might the characters conveying such vivid messaging be the next opportunity for robotics? Nah.

Jeffrey Kittay

Jeffrey Kittay was the founder and editor of the legendary Lingua Franca magazine and a winner of the National Magazine Award. Most recently, while working in newspaper publishing in Maine, he became intrigued about what allowed some of the state’s farm-to-table businesses to succeed while others continued to struggle. He decided that he, and other such businesses from coast to coast, needed to know more about how to make The New Food Economy work. Reach him by email at [email protected]

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