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Secretary-Treasurer's Report

Avoid Self-Checkout Machines

In an age of online shopping, big corporations are spending millions on technology to make things quicker and more efficient at the store level.

Have you noticed when you eat at some restaurants, they have those devices on the table where you can pay your bill or even order your food?

Technological advances can be convenient, but they also can adversely affect jobs, wages, pensions, contracts and the entire community.

Self-checkout machines are part of a major push by companies to increase their profits by eliminating workers from their payrolls. After all, a machine doesn’t expect to be paid. It doesn’t require health benefits or a pension. And when it breaks, it goes to the scrapheap and is replaced by a new machine.

As jobs disappear, more and more workers will become desperate for a job. Any job. And wages will go down for everyone as a result.

Harmful to benefits

Those who are able to keep their jobs will be affected, too.

If you work in a supermarket, your employer pays designated amounts of money into your health and pension trust funds for every hour you work. The quality of your benefits relies on maintaining enough of these employer contributions to pay for those benefits. If we reduce the total number of members who work in the stores, your health care and your retirement security could be at risk.

Shoppers like to deal with real human beings who greet them with a smile, ask if they need anything else, and bag their groceries. Self-checkout machines do none of this. But they do cause frustrated and angry customers who have to wait for a human to help them when something goes wrong, as it often does.

Even some workers in your store believe these self-checkouts are convenient when they are on a short break or lunch. But we need to encourage them to buy their items before their shift starts to avoid waiting in line for their purchases.

Our own worst enemy We are our own worst enemy if we use these self-checkout stations.

Technology has always driven the American economy, and our Union has generally welcomed technology with open arms — as long as the jobs and dignity of our members are respected and protected.

In the meantime, members and customers are urged to avoid those self-checkout machines.

Solidarity Works!