Keenan Pepper / CC BY-SA 2.0

Andrew F. Puzder, CEO of the parent company of Carl’s Jr., has announced he’s investing in machines in part because the American government, he says, is making it too difficult to afford employees. Puzder, who was an economic adviser to Mitt Romney, contends that the costs of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to employers has led to the cutting of workers’ hours across the country.

Puzder also has crusaded against raising the minimum wage — and has said fast-food restaurant managers prefer their “stature” to the economic benefits of overtime pay. (These managers are not paid for any overtime they work.)

CKE Restaurants Inc. owns several fast-food chains and claims on its website to employ over 70,000 people in the United States. However, according to The Nation, which cites a Securities and Exchange Commission report, the figure is closer to 20,000.

The CKE website asserts that the corporation brought in annual revenue of $1.3 billion for a year that ended in January. It goes on to say, “Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the year were expected to be between $195 million and $197 million.” Even so, Puzder hopes to install kiosk machines to shed jobs and generate more profit.

Business Insider reports:

Puzder’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would be possible only if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the U.S.

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

Puzder has been an outspoken advocate against raising the minimum wage, having written two op-eds for The Wall Street Journal on how a higher minimum wage would lead to reduced employment opportunities.

“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Puzder. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

As a result, he and others in the fast-food business are investing big in automation.

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive—this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

… [Puzder says of machines,] “They’re 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. …”

The Economic Policy Institute, in a 2014 post, reported a yearly leap in profits of over 30 percent for CKE Restaurants. The executive makes more in one day ($17,192) than one of his minimum-wage employees working full time makes in a year ($15,080), The Nation reported last year.

Another reason Puzder gives for wanting to install kiosks is that “[m]illennials like not seeing people.”

— Posted by Donald Kaufman

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