Labor Reform Movement: September 10, 2012

What Shall We Do When Our Work
Is Performed by Industrial Robots?
To Keep Our Jobs, We Must Improve Our Skills

By Harry Kelber


It is no longer science fiction to believe that industrial robots are now being created and trained to perform any production job that American workers have traditionally done.

Typical applications of industrial robots include welding, painting, pick -and -place (such as packaging, inspecting, and testing), all accomplished with high endurance, speed and precision.

Some robots are programmed to perform specific actions repetitively, without variation and with a high degree of accuracy. These actions are determined by instructing the robot with a series of instructions to follow.

What corporation would not love to have a department of industrial robots that could perform miracles of production, without having to be fed, housed or paid a wage?

What is truly remarkable is that no one at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington has breathed a word about the new robotic technology. In all probability, they have not tried to find out. Surely, union members will be concerned when the full story of these obedient and productive robots becomes well-known.

Questions abound? Will the robots replace human beings in workplaces? How far advanced is the technology? When will it be introduced on a mass scale? And what will be their price range? Much of the information will remain secret as companies work on structural problems of robotic technology. Competition is bound to be intense to be the first company to produce teams of industrial robots.

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In my campaign for President of the AFL-CIO, I am recommending the establishment of a Department of Technology, to keep union members informed about developments in the field of industrial technology.