By Mike Westfall
We are entering the dawn of a new age in industry and new technologies are revolutionizing
every sector of our production and office economy.
is rising in our nation as we replace old equipment with the latest computer controlled systems.
the near future up to 70% of all vehicle assembly facilities will utilize automated inspection systems, 45 % of the direct
labor in small component assembly and 20 % of the direct labor in vehicle final assembly will be replaced through programmable
automated devices. Thousands of welders and painters and material handlers in our nation's factories will be replaced with
must be concerned with all sectors of our workforce including the low seniority, medium seniority, and high seniority worker,
as each group has unique problems.
technology increases to enter the workplace the remaining jobs will become more and more skilled. The older worker will find
it much more difficult to accept this change and enter the area of reeducation.
must be looking for ideas to lesson this burden for older workers. One of the most obvious is a voluntary earlier retirement
financed by a special profit sharing or tax derived from this new technology. This earlier retirement is a major part of the
voluntary earlier retirement program for these higher seniority older workers would save many of the younger seniority workers
jobs by voluntarily easing out the older workers.
and our communities must benefit from rather than become victims of new technology which is one part of the new corporate
medium and low seniority worker must have training available to them to guarantee them and their families a secure future.
about the future of our children? We must not wait for someone else to give them a sense of direction.
of today's shop workers had fathers and grandfathers that were factory workers.
they reached working age they knew that there would be a secure living wage job available to them in the auto industry.
the situation is totally different and unless our children are made aware very early of the importance of education and the
learning of a skill we could be bringing up a generation with earning potential much less then ours.
UAW could organize high school guidance conferences designed to educate high school councilors as to what direction to give
to their students on future occupations.
unions need to create a staff of speakers to make presentations to our high schools and colleges.
could also play an important part in the technology equation.
UAW has applied for a license for a Flint area television channel. This channel could show live coverage of technology conferences
and have debates on all of the issues pertaining to technology.
will touch every worker in our society and any regular technology program on this situation would surely be popular and educational.
auto industries are creating a new age in manufacturing and an age with fewer employees in their system from concept to finished
new products these companies produce will be designed and engineered by computer aided machines and will be produced on an
automated factory floor step by step.
these automated factories are integrated with their computerized systems for planning, engineering, design, assembly, material
flow, production management and scheduling just how many of our jobs will be eliminated in the process?
will our community tax bases hold up?
about our community services including police, fire, schools?
auto industry is not just any industry in this country. One out of every 7 American jobs is auto related and the auto industry
is our nation's "largest" employer. Our economy and our communities depend on it. It will be a sad day if we do not address
this corporate restructuring away of America's better paying jobs and become a nation of much lower paid restaurant cooks
and store clerks. It could happen and it could happen in our lifetime because these powerful companies are marching in lockstep
to do just that.
are vital questions and are they really being addressed or are they being passed over in the hope that fate will treat the
working people and their communities fairly.
we only have to look at Flint or Detroit to see hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters jobs slotted for export,
downsizing or a robot.
speed and degree with which this new technology is installed will determine how quickly our jobs will be sliced.
a union of working people we have an obligation to be examining where we are and where we are going.
there are some very important questions that need to be answered.
what needs to be done, who is responsible for getting it done and what should they do?
need in depth studies to accurately forecast technological impact in advance and we need laws protecting communities against
the mass introduction of automation without concern.
need contractual protection in our union contracts and government protection from those who govern us.
who is responsible and what can they do?
group that is responsible is industry. Corporations must realize that if people can't find a job paying a decent livable wage
that they can't but the company's products.
must be made to realize that industry does not exist for management alone and it is a privilege to do business in this or
any other country and with this privilege there must be certain social responsibilities.
responsibilities which include considering impact on workers and communities when companies decide to move plants and make
major dislocations and social responsibilities in the form of human rights when they deal with workers in other countries.
All too many of our American based multi nationals are willing to exploit foreign workers with low pay and inhuman working
conditions because foreign governments allow it. This practice may not be lawfully wrong but it is morally wrong and instead
of being exploiters of their fellow human beings theses multi nationals should be setting examples for foreign governments.
These practices need to be exposed and advertised and that is one thing our growing group is doing.
officials must be held accountable and become educated to the importance of the technology issue. Our society is based on
decent paying jobs. Laws must be passed which penalize corporations that deliberately make large segments of our manufacturing
workforce unemployed due to their corporate restructuring without concern for the workers or communities that made them great.
C. Pierson, economic professor at Swarthmore College, says that most jobs that require simple mechanical skills are being
transferred from the United States to other developing countries where the wages are lower.
is a general consensus that education is the key to a living wage in this new technological generation in which we live.
kayser, manager of C.P.C. Statistical Services, said that job placements on the bachelor's level in engineering will be up
12% this year, on the master's level they will be up 32 % and up 37% at the doctoral level. In the non-technical or unskilled
category there was only a 5% increase in hiring between 1980 and 1981.
society of manufacturing and engineers stated that automation combined with robotics and computerization is bringing a different
breed of worker to the plant floor.
of the workforce in automated plants will be technicians and engineers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics recently predicted that by 1990, 80% of the available jobs would require post secondary training
of some kind.
Those jobs, 80% will necessitate something other than a traditional [liberal arts] college education.
must instill into our children an awareness of the community and an intellectual restlessness that spurs them to continued
good paying unskilled blue collar jobs of today are quickly disappearing and being replaced with the highly skilled jobs of
conclusion, we are not going to stop technology, nor should we.
throughout the decades has brought a much higher standard of living to us all and there is not one person reading this newsletter
that doesn't want this standard of living to improve even further.
we face these questions today in a socially responsible way then our auto industry and steel industry and manufacturing industries,
which have made our standard of living what it is and become the symbol of our strength will all have more not fewer jobs
in the year 2000.
we face these problems today we will have a much brighter legacy for our next generation workers but if we don't then these
jobs will evaporate and the next generation will be handcuffed to a high tax base that our generation created and a nation
of underpaid employment opportunities because we did not protect our decent paying job base. The victims will be our children.