Re: 1929 deja vu

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2000 - 16:05:22 MDT wrote:

> In a message dated 4/27/00 1:56:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> writes:
> << No argument, it's a matter of historical fact, but I don't see how that
> helps your case.
> John K Clark
> >>
> John, I spent my career in manufacturing and I thought everyone
> understood how automation worked. You probably do know but for the benefit
> of the others the rule is "Automate and layoff one production worker then
> hire two maintenance men." :))

I doubt this very much. If it were so, the unions would be all over automation,
demanding that the big three automate all plants as quickly as possible.

> During the days I was doing management consulting in manufacturing I was
> told that studies show that the companies that are buy "labor saving
> equipment" end up hiring even more workers. If there is any net layoff at
> all it is over at their competitors plants; not theirs.

And how many years ago was this?

One industry where this has been shown to be totally false is in the shipping
industry. The USPS, for example, even though it has union employees, has
basically rolled over the unions on a regular basis, and installed a highly
automated system for sorting and distributing mail, which is why it has the
lowest rates in the industry. There are quality issues, but from what a good
freind of mine who is a postal union president says, the quality issues are
almost completely a matter of human factors. He readily admits that a large
chunk of postal workers are mental driftwood and barely manageable. The
employees abuse the greivance process on things so stupid and inane that you'd
think you were dealing with the sort of frivolous court cases prison convicts
typically spend their time pursuing to mess up the court system. The USPS posted
a $1 billion profit last year, BTW....

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