Could Automation Be Labor Unions’ Death Knell?

“…Computers are getting smarter and stronger while employees, with their health insurance, pensions, and vacation time are becoming increasingly expensive. The writing is on the wall; plenty of jobs, at least as performed by humans, aren’t long for this world.

Of course, no one knows exactly how automation will shake up the worker economy, but there will almost certainly be winners and losers. IT and creative jobs will proliferate while administrative, factory, and service employment will largely go the way of the dodo.

And for labor unions, that may very well mean that the bell tolls for thee. While unions have generally been in decline for some time, automation may prove to be the proverbial dagger through the heart.”

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  • cmh

    let’s hope so. they’re worse scourge on democracy than muslims.

  • Dana Garcia

    Unions going ka-boom is the least of the social earthquake coming from smart machines. In particular, first-world nations don’t need any more immigrants when jobs are disappearing to automation every day. Nearly half of American jobs are expected to displaced by smart machines according to some experts, but politicians want more immigrants for jobs that won’t exist. How is the economy supposed to function when humans become increasingly obsolete in the workplace?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/image/iLEnvBYfHA5g.png

    • Our political class are looking for replacement votes only. Mass immigration is a scam to depress wages and lower expectations, multiculturalism is the bludgeon used to put dissenters in their place.

      There is a reason the government has set the CSIS dogs on anti-jihad bloggers.

      • John

        Britain’s political class is now discovering that those replacements votes are dangerous. UKIP in the UK and the FN in France are about to kick that pro-immigrant political class right in the head. I don’t think politicians are even paying much attention to the emerging automation of many jobs. They operate with about the same degree of mental dexterity and at about the same speed as your average union…

  • BillyHW

    Oh noes, I’m all broken up over this.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Even robots may be rendered obsolete by 3-D printing.

  • dukestreet

    The brave new world a professor used to brag about is not only here but getting worse all the time. We don’t need more immigrants. Especially, ones who refuse to become part of the country.

    This professor used to talk about how some people will want to work and others won’t. He said the ones that did work would pay for everyone. We already have that. It’s called gov’t assistance. Very soon we will be far past that. How the economy will work when robots are doing almost all work instead of people, I don’t know. I can’t see it continuing as it is,even if unions are gone.

    • It will be an interesting era.

    • Brett_McS

      Computerization can be used more to enhance rather than replace, in the way pilots have become more like Flight Managers. Ditch Digging Manager, etc. The increased productivity will pay for a lot of such re-casting.

  • Edubeat

    In the late 1920’s Karl Capek wrote a piece entitled “RUR: Rossum’s Universal Robots” The word robota became robot in english. Its theme is as applicable in 2015 as it was 1928. Its well worth a read.Try it.

  • Hktony

    We still need the old skills of building houses- just thought buildings can be pre fab in factories by machines, then there are mechanics but most things are just removed and replaced so no more fixing. Maybe the unions are finished which is a good thing for they never cared about anyone any way. Still what does that leave? It appears if you want to have some quality move to the east, Far East where people skills still matter, at least for now. The west could be on a spiral down unless people change it back and there is no reason why we cannot. We made it we unmake it. There is hope still, no oblunders hope real hope if only we could get a real leader like le pen in the UK. Paul weston could be that guy but how to elect him!

  • Brett_McS

    Just in my own field of engineering I have seen the effect of computerization. One effect is that a lot more analysis is done prior to the final design. In earlier days the analyses were simple and crude and we relied on over-sized components to cover the uncertainties. Now we analyse the wahzoo out of things. Typically it takes the same amount of time and people, but (hopefully) the final product is better for it.

    • Exile1981

      I remember rooms full of draftsmen who where replaced by a couple guys on autocad.

      A few years back a fab shop bought a 3d CNC machine that replaced 8 fitters and did a more precise job too.

    • simus1

      “Better Living Through Computmestry” enables stuff like medium and large appliance designs to be fine tuned to mostly bust after getting to about 7.5 years into their 10 year life cycle. This life cycle is government mandated to “save energy” and “stuff’.

  • WalterBannon
  • John

    In the food industry more and more people are being replaced by machines. I’ve been in the business for close to 30 years and the push for automation is accelerating every year. As machines get more complicated, the tasks they can perform become more intricate and complex. We’re way beyond those old stationary spot-welders.