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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Press Screams Foul at End of Exploitation

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Set aside for a moment the fact that nobody is making anyone work for Amazon: After eons of hearing that big, bad Amazon "exploits workers," from every corner of the press and every Democrat presidential candidate, I could understand someone being slightly flummoxed by the following Reuters headline: "Amazon Rolls Out Machines That Pack Orders and Replace Jobs."

If working for Amazon is such a hell, why isn't this presented as good news?

Conversely? Read on...

This new technology will amount to job "losses" in low double digits at warehouses employing over two thousand people, and those workers, being human beings as opposed to purpose-built machines, will have other opportunities to take better jobs for the same employer:

Office software has removed the need for millions of arithmeticians. Do we need or even want these jobs back? (Image by Carlos Mull, via Unsplash, license.)
"We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network," an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement. "We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created."

Amazon last month downplayed its automation efforts to press visiting its Baltimore fulfillment center, saying a fully robotic future was far off. Its employee base has grown to become one of the largest in the United States, as the company opened new warehouses and raised wages to attract staff in a tight labor market.

A key to its goal of a leaner workforce is attrition, one of the sources said. Rather than lay off workers, the person said, the world's largest online retailer will one day refrain from refilling packing roles. Those have high turnover because boxing multiple orders per minute over 10 hours is taxing work. At the same time, employees that stay with the company can be trained to take up more technical roles. [bold added]
Hell. Amazon isn't even laying anyone off!

Wow. Amazon is doing what every mealy-mouthed rabble-rouser claims to want to do for workers, even sparing the ax for those in obsolescent roles. And those who goad on the rabble-rousers home in on ... job losses. (And only the deaths of back-breaking, obsolete positions at that.) All of this and we haven't even gotten around to discussing the well-documented role of automation in both increasing overall employment and freeing many people from drudgery.

At a certain point, one should wonder: What do all the self-proclaimed champions of the "working man" really want?

-- CAV

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