- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi said the nationwide push by fast-food workers to raise the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $15 is “nonsense” that will inevitably lead to massive layoffs.

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries,” Mr. Rensi, a declared Donald Trump supporter, said Tuesday during an interview on the Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”

“It’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” he said. “If you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work. It’s just common sense. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it’s going to happen faster.”

Mr. Rensi said that if it were up to him he would abolish the federal minimum wage altogether and leave it up to the states.

“I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country,” he told Fox. “If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.”

Mr. Rensi’s comments came the same day MasterCard announced it was teaming up with Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia to deploy Softbank’s humanoid robot “Pepper” in select Asian restaurants by the end of the year.

SEE ALSO: Pizza Hut hiring robots to take orders, ring up customers in Asia restaurants

The robot will be able to take orders, make recommendations and accept payments, but MasterCard VP Tobias Puehse insisted it wouldn’t replace human employees any time soon.

“This is complementing the experience. It’s not meant to replace human interaction,” he told TechCrunch. “Pepper makes transactional components of the experience more fun and engaging.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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