05. March 2024 · Comments Off on Civic Action Tapback – March 5, 2024 · Categories: Announcements


By now, most Tapback readers have likely heard about Wendy’s now-aborted plan to invest in new video display boards and introduce surge pricing. Or, as their CEO had announced it: “Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and daypart offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling.” And yeah, it’s more than a little ridiculous for Wendy’s, of all companies, to be hopping on the AI bandwagon, and no, corporate executives don’t need ChatGPT to tell them to charge people more money if they can get away with it.  

But despite the frosty reception, indulging in this kind of ridiculous announcement of a ridiculous tech initiative has long been a biggie at Wendy’s. For example: they claimed in 2017 they would soon replace tens of thousands of workers with ordering kiosks, claimed in 2021 that they had struck a deal with a parking lot company to open 700 delivery-only ghost kitchens, and claimed last year that they would partner with a company planning to build a national network of underground tubes to shoot hamburgers through “instant pickup portals.” It’s all nonsense, and after the initial publicity pushes, all of these claims have tended to fizzle out and go flat over time. But what made this latest announcement the most nonsense yet was that the company has now “clarified” that they would never institute surge pricing, nope, definitely not, why would you think that, was it something they said? No, see, what they were talking about was “dynamic” pricing, which is totally a completely different thing. Just don’t think about what you might call dynamic pricing when it makes prices dynamically go up when demand is high. 

Make it make sense.

would be guaranteed to workers in Kentucky if state bill HB500 passes into law. The bill, which already passed out of committee onto the House floor, would eliminate requirements that employers provide workers with rest and lunch breaks, but the sponsor of the bill has clarified that employers will still be allowed to choose to provide breaks if they feel like it

was paid last year to WG Kellogg CEO Gary Pilnick, who recently stoked a public backlash after bragging about how low-income consumers struggling with grocery store greedflation are boosting company sales because they’re increasingly eating cereal for dinner. When asked by a CNBC host whether this could “land the wrong way,” Pilnick insisted that “it’s landing really well right now” because “cereal for dinner is something that is probably more on trend now.”

of the Mississippi State House voted to expand Medicaid coverage to at least 200,000 more people in the state, with only 20 voting no. The state’s Governor remains strongly opposed to expanded Medicaid on the grounds that providing health care coverage amounts to “free stuff for everyone,” and, he continued, is exactly what Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama would want.

Food has become increasingly expensive since the pandemic, as greedflation has hit hard in the highly concentrated market for grocery products. In fact, as the chart below showsthe cost of food is now taking up 11.3% of household spending — a 30-year high which is felt all the more sharply because it comes just a few years after an all-time low.

While it’s well-known that grocery prices are up significantly in the past few years, the data shows that a big part of the increase in food costs is due to the fact that consumers are spending a record high share of their incomes on dining out, the cost of which is also up. Increasing prices are painful, and when you spend more on food, it takes away from other forms of consumer spending and investment. But some context is also in order: despite the significant uptick since the pandemic, food still consumes a far smaller share of household incomes than it did in the 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, or earlier

Last week’s joint announcement by Starbucks and the baristas’ union could be a historic breakthrough: Starbucks would be the first major company in the service sector to negotiate a new union contract in decades. And while the move came after thousands of workers organized for years to overcome an aggressive multimillion-dollar anti-union campaign by the company, nobody seems to have any good explanation for what triggered the company to make such a big concession. (And this is despite the large number of think pieces that the brief announcement has already triggered.)

On the one hand, that makes a lot of sense: it’s hardest to attribute decisions like this in the present tense, when so much pride and ego are still at stake for so many of the parties involved. But it’s also a reminder to take a similar perspective when looking at previous historical breakthroughs like the railroad strikes of the late 19th century or the sit-down strikes of the 1930s. It’s easy to look back at these kinds of things and digest them into historical inevitabilities, but what if it was just as unclear at the time why these things worked as it is today about why the Starbucks campaign seems to have worked? Look back on a set of events when you know the outcome, and it’s easy to see everything that happened as leading to that point of victory. But it can be more instructive to hold on to how mysterious major breakthroughs can be. And to remember that history isn’t things that happen to us, it’s things we do.

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