American Public Media’s Marketplace ran a story today about automation in the retail and grocery industries, featuring Ralph’s workers and UFCW Local 770 members Ashley Schwartz and Jackie Gitmed.
As Marketplace put it, “retail is getting more and more ‘robotified,’ and where it’s most evident is the self checkout kiosks at supermarkets. Retail clerks are finding themselves displaced by the machines.”
This is an issue UFCW members around the country face every day, and it has been a subject of vigorous debate in the industry for years now. It's great to see Marketplace bringing some broader media attention to how self-checkouts are affecting retail workers and our economy as a whole. As we noted last week, retail jobs are poised to become as important to the 21st century American economy as manufacturing jobs once were. That means the self-checkout issue has some very serious ramifications on not just grocery and retail workers, but on all Americans. And let's be honest - automation in the service sector won't stop at self-checkouts in grocery stores. This is really only the beginning.
To hear what Ashley and Jackie had to say on self-checkouts, listen to the podcast below - and be sure to check out the full story over at Marketplace.