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E’ville Biz: IKEA to Pay ‘Living Wage’, Panera moves to automated Kiosks.

2 mins read

“I’ve never bought anything at IKEA that I wouldn’t pay 10% more for to support a Living Wage. Really, I wish they would take a leadership role in this.” This was my public comment at the April 7th Minimum Wage Special Study Session and I stand by this. It’s my personal belief that Corporations get all the breaks and Small Businesses are left to fend for themselves (Why there are so few small businesses in Emeryville and why we’re known as being the “mall” for the East Bay). For advocating for an East Bay regional model for Emeryville small businesses, I got painted as a “Right Winger” by the lunatic fringe of E’ville and have been subjected to incessant trolling and harassment since (Stay classy R.U.L.E.!):


Clearly my critics & Council were not listening … but perhaps IKEA was? IKEA recently announced that they will raise their employee wages to a “Living Wage” calculated with MIT’s basic needs budget formula. MIT’s living wage calculation for Alameda County is listed as $13.35/hr. for a single adult although the writer may not be aware of the looming $14.44/hr. wage that will be required within Emeryville on July 2nd. Emeryville’s calculation is a bit more arbitrary as it is a legacy figure from Measure C in 2005 that has been adjusted annually with CPI.


Meanwhile at Panera Bread on 40th, there are four shiny new kiosks to the right when you walk in. While some have ridiculed the idea of automation to combat rising labor costs, this is clearly not sci-fi. Automation is coming to E’ville at the expense of low-skilled jobs. Specialty’s has been doing this for years and Chili’s, Applebee’s & McDonalds have all recently adopted kiosks (there are undoubtedly more on the way). Kiosks are said to be preferred by younger diners and in fact reduce order errors.

Panera Bread Is Replacing Cashiers With Kiosks


Panera Bread is going to start using kiosks to input customer orders.

The fast-casual chain will start adding about eight kiosks per restaurant, writes Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek. Customers will also be able to order by phone.


As a result, there will be one to two fewer cashiers in restaurants.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich said that the new system would help accuracy of orders. Customers would also be able to customize their food.

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IKEA to raise hourly pay again. Does the flexible wage model work?


For the second year in a row, IKEA is giving its workers a wage hike.

Starting Jan. 1, the Swedish furniture retailer will up the average minimum hourly pay for its US employees to $11.47, which is a 10 percent increase from the store’s current hourly average and $4.62 above the federal minimum wage, according to reports.

The announcement makes IKEA the latest in a series of major companies to boost hourly pay, in response to a more competitive job market and in the face of a national debate around “living wage.” It also implies the success, at least initially, of the flexible wage model that IKEA introduced last year – a model that takes into account the cost of living in a store’s area.

“We’re very pleased so far,” Rob Olson, chief financial officer for IKEA US, told The Huffington Post.


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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

1 Comment

  1. Rob, you can’t be right wing if you’re fighting a drastic hike to the minimum wage. That’s bread and butter progressive.

    Do you know the last year in which black unemployment was less than white unemployment? It was 1930

    Do you know the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law? 1930.

    When the Davis-Beacon Act was passed in 1931, supporters argued openly in Congress that it would prevent blacks, who were willing to work for a lower wage, from taking jobs from union whites. It worked fabulously. Since then, black unemployment has consistently hovered at nearly double white unemployment.

    The Big Labor backed push for a $15 minimum wage is aimed squarely against the disadvantaged, the young, minorities, women, and those living in poverty. Cynically, labor is trying to coopt those who will be hurt the most.

    Here’s another way to paraphrase the Fight for $15:
    “If you do not have the skills, experience, or education to command $15 an hour, you will be legally prohibited from working in the United States…forever.” Those who say it should be called the “Fight for $0” are on to something.

    Think back to your first minimum wage job, your first step toward the job you hold today. It probably sucked, but it was what your skills and experience commanded at the time. It was a place to start and move up. What if you never got it? What if you were legally forbidden from getting it? What if those jobs no longer existed? Where would you be today?

    Employment is the one and only legal path out of poverty toward financial equality, and Big Labor is stealing that path from those who need it most.

    To be progressive, you have to think and push against those who are fighting for their own self-interest against the disadvantaged whether it’s Big Business or Big Labor.

    Rob, don’t worry. Yours is the most progressive voice in this community by far.

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