On doing what you want and what you have to do and does social media replace journalism?

March 21, 2017

We need industry and the jobs that (still) come with it but maybe I’m glad I left the factory decades ago and then after less than a year. Being stuck on the factory floor was no life for me. But for a beginning job the pay was relatively good and I did have some health insurance with it. And I should not have left the way I did. I just left. But I used my GI bill and took some journalism classes, became a reporter (finished my college work years later).

But that factory was hard work. And unlike the small newspapers I worked at no one ever made me feel that my job was not important. This was in what most people just called “the mill”. It was a lumber re-manufacturing facility. We made the parts for the now old-time fruit lug boxes (yeah a box factory) as well as molding strips for construction. I remember during an orientation a plain-talking no-nonsense mill manager said: “some of you might find yourself sweeping the floor and think that your job is not important — that’s a bunch of bologna sausage (he really said that); we wouldn’t have hired you if it was not important”. And I guess a Republican might say that is the difference between the private sector and the public sector.

But what made me think about all this is that I was talking to a handy man in the apartment complex where I live and he was telling me about the factory he worked in before his present job. He told about 12-hour rotating shifts and about being left out on the line by another employee who decided he wanted to goof off. The stuff kept coming and he could not keep up.

Heck I had help and could not keep up at times. Machines are relentless. They never tire. They just keep spitting stuff out at you. And being cooped up in a building all day long is not for me anyway. Where I worked the sun beat down on the metal roof in the summer and sawdust got all into your clothing and stuck to your sweat-drenched skin.

But it was honest work. It was work and even then not everyone had work, even those who wanted it.

But the stuff I did at the small newspapers was work too. But I enjoyed it for the most part. But too much of a good thing can be work too. And it was not always enjoyable because one person can only write so much and that one person likes to go home now and then and visit the family but in that kind of work there are no regular hours and for the most part overtime rules don’t apply or if and when they do they are ignored. But the worst of all is that in the small time they actually see you as necessary but bothersome overhead. I’m talking small newspapers often run by small-minded people or big corporations that operate them as cash cows. No wonder so many have gone out of business. The same attitude affected some of the bigger publications (just some). And the internet has changed everything.

And I have just discovered something to add onto what I just wrote concerning changes in journalism but I’ll save it for further down in this post.

But I did not mean to go into all that.

Another thing that got me thinking along these lines is the conversation I had with my dental hygienist. She said that she and her husband want to move somewhere else where they think they could have a more suitable lifestyle. They are not sure what the job prospects would be where they want to move (and we are not talking big city, just the opposite). But I’m thinking like I think they are: settle where you want to live and make it work. No job can take the place of that.

I did not originally aspire to be a newspaper reporter. I just wanted to write. I was thinking more along the lines of novelist. Who knows? I just might write a novel sometime. But I think the secret to writing is to write. And the secret to writing novels is to write one. People who are meant to do it do it.

And one should do what he or she is meant to or what he or she would like to do if at all possible.

Okay, so I settled for truck driving for survival. And it has indeed sustained me. And there is a lot of independence hour by hour (by hour by hour….).

But, whatever, we need those factory jobs, even if automation is taking over. Technology is even moving into the heretofore protected world of the so-called cerebral jobs and professions.

I think we are destroying our own humanity.

I suppose that if the machines and computers take over that will free us all up to do what we want to do if we know what we want to do or if there will be anything left to do.

And now that thing I discovered: I had mentioned the fact the internet changed journalism. Well some people apparently think that it is obsolete, that social media makes it unnecessary. I just lifted the following paragraph out of a publication (to which I will give full credit at the bottom):

But here is what one man thinks:

With the rise of social media and the internet, journalists are becoming irrelevant.  After all social media has made everybody a journalist.  We no longer need for journalists to act as a middle man and report what someone said or what event may have happened.  With social media we get it straight from the horses mouth (sic).  No journalistic comments are required or even welcomed. We are now in a position of having to make up our own mind.  And that is scary for people who run on a high level of emotion. They are used to someone telling them how to think. (By Larry Oscar) full article: http://haulproduce.com/2017/zinger-8/


Well okay, I say, if you want to wade through the hodgepodge of items (including posts like my own) and decide what is true and what is not or what makes sense and what does not without any gatekeepers and fact checkers and with computer hackers filling the web with fake news and put up with the illiteracy that further confuses communication, have fun — not for me. We do need responsible journalism, though. And it is indeed helpful to have access, especially video, to what the professionals do — if makes us more aware and keeps the professionals honest. But we need journalism still I believe.

Oh, by the way Larry, my own spell check just reminded me that what is displayed in your article as horses mouth should be horse’s mouth (possessive), but we know what you meant.


Farmers: did you not believe Trump? (fears of labor shortages with no supply of illegals)…

February 11, 2017

I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry or be understanding or outraged when I read that farmers in California and elsewhere I guess, especially in the west, supported Donald Trump in big numbers but now they are chagrined to find out that he really meant what he said about clamping down on immigration.

You see, the story I read said they depend upon something like 70 to 80 percent of their field help who are illegals, or undocumented workers, most of these from Mexico.

This has been an open secret for ever since I can remember. Well actually when I was younger there was the Bracero program, originally began I think in WWII when there was a shortage of help due to so many men being in the military. Men came up from Mexico without their families. And the program continued on through the 1960s but at some point was discontinued. And I’ve recited this tale before but I recall picking prunes with my mom — and we did it not because we depended upon it but for extra money — and seeing poor white people working, who did depend upon it. But I think the white people participation petered out in the late 60s with the enactment of various social programs pushed through by President Lyndon Johnson in what he called his Great Society Program.

But farm workers were still needed, and to fill that demand people came up from Mexico, some had green cards that permitted them to work and some not. I do not know the process of obtaining a green card.

So if you are ever around the big farming operations in the west you will see that a majority of the help is Hispanic. Men and women do all kinds of work, everything from crawling through fields of strawberries to driving tractors with computerized controls, to working in the processing plants to loading trucks to working at the computers where it all is coordinated.

I haul produce for a living and have noticed that many produce outfits are run by Hispanic people. Many have had great success.

These are hardworking and often quite skilled people — really all the work requires skill and stamina.

But let’s get to the fact so many are here illegally. Why is this? If we know we need the labor why do we play this game?

Some would answer cynically that it allows big agriculture an upper hand in controlling labor. When you’re illegal you are not as likely to complain.

I don’t know what people think. I can only guess or surmise. But I think if nothing else it has just become an accepted pattern.

I don’t want to speak for farm workers because I don’t have to live their lives. But as a kid I saw some of the wretched conditions in the old farm labor camps — the ones I saw were for unaccompanied men, but they were crude and they were a shame.

I think big agriculture should take the responsibility and push for legalization of imported help. And if it does not, it deserves what it will get.

Yes, we the consumers are told we’ll pay via higher prices at the grocery store and maybe even by not seeing all the products we once saw.

So be it. We expect good pay and we expect tolerable living conditions for ourselves. We should expect no less for those who toil in the fields.

I have also written before that in some cases where labor shortages are acute, more mechanization will be added. Some things resist mechanization — but as we all see, in the end nothing does these days.

p.s.

LBJ’s Great Society was pushed through after documentaries showing the poverty among white people in Appalachia. But that was back in the 1960s. Poverty persists. Ironically, it is reported that many of these people voted for the billionaire Trump. I don’t know, you can only do so much through government action, whether it is social programs or incentives for business. Some problems have more to do with culture. In the end it seems to be up to the individual. But yes, if good employment can be returned, that would seem a positive — and I don’t think everyone can be or needs to be a computer programmer or wind farm designer. Hillary Clinton made a misstep when she promised to put coal miners out of business. Her words may have been taken out of context, but to make that mistake in coal country shows a lack of judgment. And I hate to pile it on her — sorry.

 

 

 

 


Enjoy your labor, it’s beginning to go out of style

September 5, 2016

On this Labor Day I’m still wondering what working people will do once there is nothing left to do as the result of technology that is meant to free us from labor.

This morning on my computer I was looking at the digital version of a Spanish newspaper (I’m headed to Spain next week) and there was a photo of a farm tractor pulling implements behind and it was remotely controlled.

That is not a new idea at all. When I was in high school in the mid 1960s I remember going to the county fair and one of the 4-H Club displays was of a farmstead with remote-controlled tractors. Have not seen any yet, but they’re coming. I know. I’ve been an over-the-road truck driver for the past two decades and the remote-controlled trucks have already been built and tested — yeah, they’re coming, and soon. How actually that will evolve I don’t know but I have a feeling that once it begins it will be rapid.

I used to work in the newspaper business as a reporter. It was already going down hill when I began in 1973 but the final nail in the coffin for the real thing, a paper newspaper, was of course the computer, like the one I’m using right now, and of course the smart phone. I doubt my grandkids have much of a concept of a newspaper, although strangely my older grandson did play some kind of newspaper reporter game on the computer when he was smaller — it was completely his idea. I didn’t even get it.

But I ask the question: what do we do when there is no more work? For most of us our whole lives are centered around work. What we do for a living.

At my age, 67, I don’t worry too much about that for my own sake.

But let’s go back to the farm so to speak: when I was an adolescent, just before becoming a full-fledged teenager, my mom hauled me out to a prune orchard and I helped pick prunes off the ground. We did this for extra money for the household, but for some, their lives depended upon it. Whole families used to follow the crops, and as I have written so many times before, back then it was not just Hispanic laborers (and no disrespect for Hispanic laborers intended) but people of all ethnic groups and nationalities — or to put it crudely, poor white folks too. Ok we were not poor, just maybe of modest means. My dad worked on a newspaper.

Crawling around in the dirt all day and in the summer (best to get started in the cool of the morning) is not a joy. So I think it was great progress when that job was mechanized. A v-shaped contraption pulls up under a tree and a mechanical shaker makes the prunes fall into it and then it all moves to the next tree.

So mechanization still has not done away with all harvest labor. Some crops it seems are not as adaptable to it. But as I have also written, I think almost any kind of harvest can be mechanized; it’s more a matter of labor cost than anything else. As long as labor is cheap enough, the pressure to mechanize is not there. So for those hard-to-mechanize crops it still might be cheaper to use hand labor, but if the cost were to get too high on the labor finally, it would be mechanized or in the worst case scenario abandoned.

So what happened to the prune pickers?

For those who did not depend upon the work, they just did something else. For those who could not find anything else, they signed up for LBJ’s Great Society programs. This is something else I have repeated many times in these posts. This is perhaps a form of shorthand. I mean there is probably more to the story. But on the other hand I watched this all unfold in my lifetime and feel it is reasonably accurate.

And the good news is that succeeding generations of the once migrant laborers were essentially forced to move into something else and hopefully something more promising.

So as long as mechanization is doing things like that, good. But now technology is taking over almost every line of work. Every one from restaurant waiters (enter the kiosk to order) to lawyers (computerized programs to do those repetitive legal tasks) is being affected.

I actually have more important things to do now than write this, so I’ll just try to close by saying I hope we don’t end up a civilization that produces weird human forms with bodies that have weak, limp arms hanging at their sides because they have no work and technology does everything for them. I think that was predicted in a song — the year 2525?

p.s.

On the term prunes: I once had an argument with a sergeant in the army who disputed my term prune to mean the fresh fruit from the tree. He insisted they are plums when on the tree and prunes once they are dried. Well technically he is correct of course. But here in prune country (well just south of me nowadays) we call them prunes from start to finish. Just thought I’d clear that up. Oh, and in a way, the sergeant won the argument — it doesn’t pay to argue with the boss.

 


Minimum wage of minimal value; a return to an industrial economy and better trade deals is what we need…

May 7, 2015

Just read — okay skimmed over — an opinion piece by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York about the need for raising the minimum wage — there is such a thing as a state minimum and a federal minimum.

I think the minimum wage may be an unfortunate necessity because of the stinginess of employers in general — well they call it competing in the market place, but I mean how many vacation homes and yachts do you need?

But I think the minimum wage is of only small value. It works as a kind of bench mark on the value of labor. People who gain raises at a much higher level get paid partially on the basis of how higher those raises are than the low standard of the minimum wage.

I’m a long-haul truck driver and I get paid primarily by the mile. Much to my chagrin trucking is exempt from a lot of the labor laws — the industry has a strong lobby and independents or gypos like to run the miles — hours mean little. Nonetheless the minimum wage I think has some effect on the hourly rate we sometimes get for waiting or doing short-haul work (although the bulk of the waiting is unpaid — it just comes with the program. I’ve accepted it).

But I said in another post that if your goal is the minimum wage, that is not much of a goal. I think minimum-wage jobs should be reserved for the young, for temporary workers, and for oldsters (like myself) who want to earn some extra bucks (although I have a full-time job and am not applying).

Unfortunately with the employment market being what it is a lot of over-qualified people are working minimum-wage jobs or ones not far above it. Also a huge number of people are simply stuck there because of a lack of training, lack of available work at higher levels, and other factors I suppose.

We really need to return to a full-fledged industrial economy, where there are more jobs and more jobs with relatively higher wages than there are now, automation notwithstanding.

We are being sold down the river by all of these trade deals I am afraid. Maybe trade deals are not bad, but maybe we need to make better deals.


You can’t fight automation but we depend upon well-paying jobs…

February 20, 2015

 

UPDATE:

So a day or so after I posted this, under pressure from the federal government and state officials, both sides in the West Cost port dispute reached a tentative agreement, but this post still applies.

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You really can’t fight automation. I say this in regards to the West Coast shipping port labor dispute that has stalled the unloading and loading of seagoing vessels for some time now and in turn has stalled exports of American products — agriculture hit the hardest currently — and the distribution of products to American consumers — and I mean practically everything we buy from tooth brushes to cars and car parts comes from overseas.

Right now the one sticking point — other issues such as pay being resolved — is the selection of arbitrators. At present, arbitrators are appointed to help resolve disputes, and an arbitrator cannot be removed without the consent of both management and labor. Labor now wants to have a separate say. Ironically it had sponsored the appointment of one arbitrator but apparently he did not go the way they wanted him to (that happens, remember Eisenhower’s pick of Earl Warren for the Supreme Court?).

But underlying this may be the concern of the longshoremen’s union in maintaining good well-paying middle class jobs for its members and at least dealing with the effects of automation. Also ironically, it is said that the union cooperated wholeheartedly back in the 1960s when the push toward automation began.

You’ve at least seen the old movies — “On the Waterfront” — where the stevedores unload the ships by hand and where men fight to be selected for a job each day and where if someone injures himself he is out of luck.

Today the pay is excellent (although not everyone works full-time) and so are the benefits. And all that hand labor is virtually gone. You see giant cranes and instead of individual crates you see containers that move intact from the ship to a truck and possibly to a rail car and maybe back on a truck — and air is another possibility somewhere along the way. You see forklifts of course too.

I’m not up on this, but I am reading and hearing that even with all this automation, the United States is behind other places in shipping automation. And in the current West Coast slowdown some freight is being diverted to ports in Canada and Mexico.

So it behooves all involved to get this settled.

Protecting good jobs is important, not just for those who have them but for everyone else who benefits from the flowing dollars.

But you can’t fight automation. Fighting it by labor almost killed the railroads until they made the switch (no pun intended really). And I know little to nothing about railroads but was interested to hear that they have automatic switches these days and remote controlled trains in rail yards.

It wasn’t all that long ago that production people in the newspaper industry fought automation. They may have won some battles but the war was lost. Technology has all but killed the conventional newspaper.

For those who work for a living, the pressure is to keep one step ahead of technology and learn the skills necessary for changes in work.

Easy for me to say now. I’m old enough to be almost done with it all (But then again, who wants to be done with it all?).

It’s kind of a scary world out there for job seekers and workers but labor has not been done away with (yet), it is just changing.

——————————

Note:

Much of the information in this post is thanks to a listen of the Diane Rhems Show on NPR, a good show to listen to because you get thorough discussion of issues enhanced by a talented moderator, solid information with a balance in points of view, generally, or always, without the usual bombastic presentation of talking points that add nothing to the understanding of an subject. Oh, and there is generally intelligent and important input from callers too. And my endorsement is totally unsolicited.

 

 

 

 

 


Those who pick up skills along the way generally keep employed, or solving unemployment on the personal level…

November 21, 2013

I was looking for something to write about in this space and then I ran across an article about something like 38 people applying for each low-wage job (part-time at that?) at a new Walmart store opening up in Washington D.C.  I didn’t even finish the article (yet). What caught my eye was some statistics it was using about the unemployment rate among those with various levels of education, such as no high school, high school, college. And as you might expect, it said the rate is lower among those with higher educations.

And then there is always the ongoing argument or discussion about the worth of higher education, to include the fact that so many college graduates, already deep in debt from borrowing to finance their education, cannot find jobs.

At 64 years of age, I can safely say from what I have observed the key to employment is being willing and, more importantly, able to do what someone else needs to be done. Yeah, works almost every time. Regardless of your education (well most of the time) if you are able to perform work (manual or otherwise) someone else needs to be done you will have a job.

Simplistic I know. And yet so true.

As my dad always told me: you should learn a trade so you have something to fall back on if what you really want to do does not work out. I did not follow that advice to a tee, that is not directly.

His advice was not original. People have been advised that forever.

In my own life I just bumbled along. But somewhere in my late middle age I learned the truck driving trade (not my first pick of things I always wanted to do) and have not been without work since (save a bout of disability due to health).

Now I don’t for a minute suggest that is the key. No I would suggest a far better trade or skill. And yet, it worked for me.

Not all trades or skills require a degree or license or such. People just learn things by doing them on various jobs and find that what they learned comes in handy on other jobs.

Now the following is not exactly an example of what I am talking about but it comes to mind nonetheless:

Once another trucker and I arrived at a newspaper to deliver rolls of newsprint. But there was a problem. The lift truck the man at the newspaper dock was using would not work. Well my trucker friend in another job did some work on forklifts. He found the problem — it was something about a loose fuel line as I recall — and fixed it. Now there is a man who could get a job. He picked up some skills along the way. I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes you have to be not too narrowly focused. It helps to be somewhat multi-talented.

What I am trying to say is that people who want to work and who in fact end up getting work are usually those who open their eyes to what is in demand at the time and also who pick up skills along the way. And that can start young. I am not a good example personally, and yet in my younger days I was certainly offered a lot of opportunities:

My dad was a newspaperman, but he grew up on a farm and there he learned some skills, such as carpentry and home (and farm) electricity wiring, and plumbing. He did a lot of handy work around the house. I should have paid more attention. But once when I was little he was wiring a light switch and said: “pay attention, you might need to know this some day”. Years later when I had a home of my own, that came in handy.

During high school and at times later I did some amount of farm work, driving tractors and such. On one occasion I worked for a farmer and he said if I stayed on through harvest he would have me drive a big truck from field to processing plant. I went on, though, and became employed in journalism. But wouldn’t you know it? years later I attended a short course in truck driving and went into driving semis — the earlier offer by the farmer could have come in handy later.

And here’s a real good one as far as I am concerned:

When I was in the army in Germany I was a crew member on a tank. As tank crew members we did crew maintenance. As part of that, when mechanics needed to work on our engines we undid various bolts to assist them in getting at the engine and transmission which was then lifted in one unit right out of the back of the tank. But I had a fellow crew member who was a black guy. I mention his race only because I’m trying to make a point. There is always the lament that unemployment is high among minorities. Well he went a step beyond crew maintenance. He learned how to undo the brakes, something the mechanics usually did. I had no clue. But he took it upon himself to learn. Now there is someone looking to build skills for future employment. I mean you never know.

And this holds true in all types of work — in the field, in factories, in offices, everywhere.

All of this is easier said than done, I know. Sometimes you are kept busy and not offered the opportunity to do anything else. But some people just seem to ignore that roadblock.

I don’t claim to be among those. But I will pat myself on the back for the following:

When the newspaper trade finally played out on me during that era of corporate downsizing a couple of decades ago I sought help through some public agency (veteran’s?). After a discussion with a counselor, the guy tells me:

“I could put you in a training program but I see you as someone who is just going to go out there and get a job.”

Really. He said that. I was discouraged, temporarily. I mean how much help is that? But then I did what he said. I was desperate for sure. And sometimes that’s what it takes.

I should add, now that I think about it, that tagging along with my dad as he made photos and covered various news stories, to include fires and floods, gave me a head start in journalism.

All this does not solve the lingering unemployment problem and the fact that there are way too many people and fewer and fewer jobs, due to the rapid movement of technology even more than economic conditions.  But when you’re unemployed it’s a personal problem that public policy and politics and such is not likely to solve for you personally. I was just making some observations from that personal point of view.

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Hey check out my new video edition of Tony Walther’s Weblog: http://youtu.be/PMupDfggVIM


What will labor do when the robots take over and there are no jobs left to protect? This is coming; it’s really almost here…

December 8, 2012

LATEST UPDATE:

The good news is that Apple announced that it is going to manufacture some of its computers in the United States, but just a small portion and it will not likely be Apple but a subcontractor doing it.

The not so good news on the labor front is that despite a promise by that development and other recent ones is that robots are taking over. I think I read that in some cases robots can build other robots. All this has been predicted for decades but it is finally coming to pass.

We really are fast approaching a time when there may be little for the vast majority of people to do. This is going to force some new thinking about society and economics.

And this puts labor in a ticklish position. You can be replaced. I am a truck driver. But I know there is already technology for driverless trucks that has been tested in Asia. And the state of California has passed a law giving the go-ahead to driverless cars. I don’t know how that came about. I never heard anything about it until the law passed.

Somehow I felt this is all related to the ongoing struggle of the dock workers and others in the labor force to protect their jobs.

What follows is what I have written in the past several days on the subject:

UPDATE:

How is it that no matter how much you pay people you hear things like this quote, reportedly from a union dock worker, who a story indicated was describing the plight of his fellow workers: “a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with house payments and bills”?

I read this in a news story this morning telling of the fact that the strike by union dock workers at LA ports is now over with a tentative contract in the works. It was really over the plight of a relative handful of clerical workers but other union members honored the picket lines. And the main issue was job security and accusations that employers were or were planning to outsource and otherwise eliminate jobs. The new contract does offer a modest wage bump, according to the story. Apparently the threat of federal mediators stepping in was enough to get things settled.

But that quote I read this morning is what struck me. I don’t doubt but that it is true. And I don’t know how much those union dock workers make. The story said the average wage for the clerks was $65,000 per year, but that figure is probably misleading (too low or too high). My quick computer research indicated that union dock workers could make up to $100,000 per year, but the exact amount of money they make is not what strikes me. Let’s just say the union jobs offer generous pay. And still, people claim they live paycheck to paycheck (not everyone; it was just a quote from one unidentified person, I realize).

And, oh, just listen to me, but maybe the problem is that a lot of people will live that way no matter what. Pay more, they simply spend more and feel they must have certain things at a minimum. And of course if landlords or even home sellers know people are making more, prices tend to go up, that is how it works in our system.

But this job action was reportedly more about job security. In the end there may be no such thing. While the dock workers were out, some of their business was beginning to go to the Mexican port of Ensenada where wages are lower.

It seems in our system there is an eternal struggle between employers and employees and added to this employers are madly searching for ways to solve the problem by eliminating the need for employees.

I know it sounds like I am going far afield in this, but I have to note that during the recent presidential campaign the Republicans in talking about their business constituency referred to them as “job creators”. But computers and robots are standing at the ready to gobble up more and more human jobs and those “job creators” would be more than happy to oblige.

The point here, and there really is one after all, is that if you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, a large amount of your problem may be the way you spend your money and the solution may not be limited to higher wages (although that would still seem to always help), but find a more efficient way of spending what you make. And maybe learn more about money in general. The days of simply claiming the identity of “working man” may be coming to an end.

I really have no clue what happens once there are no jobs for humans. We’ll have to figure out  a different way of distributing those tokens we call money.

MY ORIGINAL POST OF 12-3-12 FOLLOWS:

In one way I have little sympathy with the reportedly 500 clerical workers and the union or unions involved whose strike has shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and threatens to shut down ports on both coasts and is costing the industry a reported one billion dollars a day. And then in another I do.

(just a relative handful of clerical workers have got several thousand more of other union workers honoring their strike.)

Here’s the deal:

As a long haul trucker I have had negative experiences at times — just at times, mind you — with union ways of doing things.

A few years ago I was going in and out of the port at Long Beach on a not infrequent basis (I just mean time to time). If I arrived at say 11 a.m., I’d have to wait because everyone was on break. But if I got there at noon, they were all at lunch (drivers like me don’t get set breaks or lunches; we catch as catch can).

And worse yet (and this goes to the core of the clerical workers causing all the fuss), I once arrived for a load of bananas. After loading half the trailer things stopped. I found out all the union workers had walked off over a dispute that there was not adequate staffing on the clerical side (at least not what was supposedly required under the union contract). Fortunately they came back after a while and I got out of there, albeit much delayed. Is that any way to run a business? I don’t think so.

On the other hand, I have nothing but good words for the work of union workers at the dock when they are hard at it. They tend to be professional and quite efficient.

And as I read it, the clerical workers are two years without a contract, and the major bone of contention is their claim that the employers want to gradually outsource many of their jobs to overseas workers as people retire. I guess in this modern era of electronics and computers and super interconnectedness (via the internet) such could be done, outsourcing of much of the clerical work, that is. I can’t imagine how they would outsource (at least out-of-the-country outsource) the forklift drivers.

This brings up a real problem. As you take away the jobs people perform in this country, how does the economy continue? Now I know extreme union rules can get out of hand, such as in the railroad industry years ago after there was nothing left for the fireman in a locomotive to do after there was no firewood to toss into the boiler or coal to shovel into the boiler, but union rules demanded that job be preserved. It was called featherbedding. And I recall a news magazine story said at the time (and I think this was in the ‘60s) that an engineer, who was still needed to drive the train, complained that the fireman who was supposed to work beside him showed up to work in his night clothes and slippers.

So, no, jobs should not be preserved when there is no longer a need for them, but they also should not be transferred overseas.

This and the fact there are just fewer and fewer things for people to do as the result of technological advancements is a vexing problem.

But it gave me something to write about. I’ve just spent the whole day sitting waiting to deliver a load. I get paid nothing for this. Hey, maybe I need a union…. Just kidding boss who signs my checks.

P.s.

Many people assume that all truck drivers are members of the Teamsters Union. Most long haul drivers and even other types of drivers are not.

P.s.

And about those robots — check out this New York Times column: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/