It has always been my policy to use a "live" cashier rather than self-checkout whenever possible.

Having been young once, I appreciate the value of entry-level jobs. Therefore, whenever possible I have opted for a human cashier rather than using a self-checkout terminal.

In recent years, we've seen more and more self-checkout terminals replace humans, and that is unfortunate. The move towards automation at some businesses has progressed dramatically since the labor unions began the fight for unsustainable high minimum wages for largely unskilled workers.

In places like Massachusetts, where politicians continue to saddle businesses with more costly regulations to fund social programs and wages for entry-level positions, the move to automation has sharply increased.

Unions such as the AFL-CIO have launched a campaign to get more consumers to refuse to use self-checkout. They insist that by doing so, businesses will eventually scrap them and bring in more humans. This won't happen, though, as busy folks look to the self-checkout terminals as quicker alternatives to standing in line.

Customer service also means a lot, when shoppers are busy and business has done a poor job of enforcing the basics. Too often, checkout lines are clogged because employees would prefer to engage with each other or their cell phones than with the customer. Nothing moves me to self-checkout faster.

The best way to keep stores from replacing workers with self-checkout entirely is to provide better customer service training to their employees. It would also help if they staffed more registers in order to shorten the waiting lines. And voters can do their part by rejecting a ballot question this fall that increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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