RE: Why I send these out -- was Re: Here's another winner - guess the pay

Subject: RE: Why I send these out -- was Re: Here's another winner - guess the pay
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: William Sherman <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>, TECHWR-L mailinglist <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012 11:33:54 -0500

> But at $40 to $50 per hour, and you are a professional that commands
> more
> than a little respect.
> If this sounds a bit like organizing and the unions, it is. Yes, there
> is
> corruption and there is often unfair protection of worthless people,
> but
> this was how you got to work 40 hour weeks, this is how you didn't get
> fired
> for being sick and actually got sick days, this is how you got
> vacation,
> this is how you got some security in work with seniority. If you don't
> stand
> up and help your fellow tech writer, eventually everyone will fall.
> This may seem like it is only about one place offering a $10 per hour
> job,
> but it only takes one crack in the dam left ignored for the whole dam
> to
> eventually fail.

This pre-supposes that all employers are colluding to offer the
lowest possible wages, with no other consideration. It might
even look like that, during times of economic contraction, if
you happen to be in the region or industry that is contracting.

In other times and places, employers are competing for
good workers, and find it necessary and desirable to offer
better compensation, in order to get better people. Writers
as well as other kinds of worker.

A large number of people have already seen what happens
when group bargaining becomes entrenched, after the
period in which it was originally necessary. They find
their jobs going elsewhere as the clout of the bargaining
entity (often in collusion with law-makers) drives the
cost of their labor above what the market can bear. Or
companies feel greater and greater pressure to find
technology to replace high-cost workers.

I won't like it if I get the axe, but it won't be
because a union wasn't standing up for me and
artificially keeping my wages higher than makes
sense for my employer (or excluding less experienced
and skilled people from getting a chance). It'll be
because the paradigm is changing, and what I offer
is now less important to my employer than it once
was - my experience, skill, and subject-matter knowledge
notwithstanding. If that's the case, I will have
the choice of entering competition for a shrinking
number of positions in the old paradigm, or repackaging
myself, my skills, my knowledge, to better address
the new.

It will probably hurt.

As so many people are fond of saying in the list,
there's no such thing as job security or employer
loyalty. Collective bargaining to force a simulation
of it might delay the inevitable, but the reaction
when it comes will be uglier for the delay.

The garbage truck just went past my front door.
One man was driving it from a right-hand-side
standing position. I think the driver controls
have a "dead-man" setup, such that as he arrives
in front of a driveway with garbage/re-cycle bins,
he just releases his grip, or steps off a floor-plate,
and the truck comes to a halt and swings out a barrier
like the one on the front of school buses.

The guy steps out, pulls the wheeled bin to the
side of the truck and pokes a button. A hook
raises my recycle green bin, tips it, shakes it,
and lowers it. The single operator then nudges the
bin back into my driveway and steps into the truck
and moves another 40 feet. As recently as five years
ago, that truck was driven from the standard North
American left-hand driver side, and a second man
did the handling and dumping. Two paychecks have
become one, to accomplish the same task. Meanwhile,
they might have added one additional mechanic to
maintain the additional systems in twenty of the
new-style trucks... but the tasks done by mechanics
are also seeing encroaching automation.

I couldn't build it, but I could design a system
using today's available tech, that could drive the
truck, detect obstacles and avoid them, detect the
standardized garbage/recycle bins, grab them
(regardless of orientation), dump and replace them,
and move on. Some regulations might be necessary
regarding vehicle parking, and perhaps some painted
lines on curbs might need applying, but it would
certainly work in the suburbs. In the city core,
the garbage/recycle pickup might retain the human
driver for another ten years, before tech has
advanced to the point that he's not needed there,
either. I'm sure the union fought the introduction
of the single-operator trucks, and will fight the
introduction of the self-guided ones, that need
only occasional intervention by remote drone-monitoring
humans, one per ten trucks. They'll lose.

- k

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