Numerous articles about autonomous over-the-road trucks have appeared in trade publications for the transportation industry. In the future, these 18-wheelers will travel in massive convoys through the night on the majority of major highways without drivers or supervision, saving the logistics system tens of billions of dollars annually. Good news for the price of everything we buy, sell, or trade; however, it’s not so good for truck drivers and truck driver unions.
In fact, several major truck manufacturers in Europe have tested long convoys on their main highways for a number of hundred-mile spans without any incidents. The Europeans are doing it with self-driving trucks, just as Google is demonstrating the value of self-driving cars. You can expect this technology to improve, and soon we’ll see big trucking companies making the best use of it for both intrastate and interstate cargo. Indeed, as businesses look for alternatives to union extortion and unreasonable demands, we can anticipate that this technology will advance more quickly as a result of the truck driver unions’ hostility.
Ken Elkins wrote an interesting piece in the Charlotte Business Journal recently on April 15, 2016 titled; “Charlotte FedEx Freight drivers’ unionization effort draws out,” and my first response to this was simple and abruptly hardcore; Give them the raise, sure, but also invest ten times as much in technologies for driverless, autonomous trucks, and let them know in advance that’s what you’re planning to do.
You see, the article stated: “More than 16 months after their new union was certified, about 220 FedEx Freight drivers in Charlotte are having a hard time persuading the company to engage in negotiations with it.”
We see similarities between unionization and worker demands in the fast food industry, where workers demand $15.00 per hour and the restaurants realize they cannot stay in business at that price because the end product would be priced so high consumers wouldn’t be willing to pay, resulting in fewer jobs and restaurant franchisee closures, or the fast food restaurants will fully automate to robotics, which is frequently their first choice of refuge from the onslaught of impossible worker demands. Philosophically speaking, it is essentially the same argument.
Workers need to realize that this is true across all industries, not just these two, and get ready for the Future of Work, which may not include them if they become overly demanding. Please take this into consideration and give it some thought.