The Silicon-Collar Workforce

״In industry after industry, companies are replacing human labor with machinery, and in the process changing the nature of industrial production. One of the industries most affected by re-engineering and the new information-based technologies is rubber. Kenney and Florida recount the story of a Firestone Tire facility in La Vergne, Tennessee. Conditions in the plant were so poor, said one union official, that it ”made it difficult to believe that tires could actually be produced there.”^^ Although this plant was one of Firestone’s most technologically advanced facilities, poor management-labor relations had so poisoned the work environment over the years that production had nearly ground to a halt. The factory floor was so disorganized and unclean that foreign materials like cigarette butts, nails, and paper cups would become embedded in tires.״

״In 1982 Bridgestone, a Japanese rubber producer, acquired the Firestone facility and immediately began re-engineering the operations to conform with its own high standards of lean production. It introduced work teams, flattened the organizational hierarchy from eight to five levels, reduced job classifications, instituted job-retraining programs to improve quality control, and invested $70 million in new equipment designed to automate the production process. In less than five years, the production increased from 16,400 to 82,175 tires per month. In the same time period, the production of tires with blemishes declined by 86 percent.״

״Goodyear, a company long associated with quality tires in the United States, claims a similar success story. Goodyear earned a record $352 million in 1992 on sales of $11.8 billion. The company is producing 30 percent more tires than in 1988 with 24,000 fewer employees.^^

The Bridgestone and Goodyear experience is being duplicated in other tire plants around the world. In the United Kingdom, Sumitomo,

another Japanese tire producer, acquired Dunlop facilities and converted them to lean-production practices. Today, productivity has increased by more than 40 percent with 30 percent fewer workers.^^

The extractive industries have also been affected by automation. In 1992, 45,000 jobs were eliminated in mining in the United States.^^ Mining, like agriculture, has been undergoing a steady process of technology displacement for nearly seventy years. In 1925, 588,000 men, nearly 1.3 percent of the nations entire workforce, mined 520 million tons of bituminous coal and lignite. In 1982 fewer than 208,000 men and women produced more than 774 million tons of coal.^^ With the use of advanced computer technology, faster excavating and transportation equipment, improved blasting technologies, and new processing methods, mining companies have been able to increase output at an average annual rate of 3 percent since 1970.^^

The increasing automation of the mining industry has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the coal producing regions of the country. By the first decade of the coming century, fewer than 113,200 people—a labor force 24 percent smaller than at present—will produce all of the coal needed to meet both domestic and overseas demand.^^

Like mining, the chemical refining industry has also been substituting machines for human labor. Texacos Port Arthur refinery was the first chemical facility to introduce digital computer control in 1959. Between 1959 and 1964, productivity soared and the number of workers in the chemical industry declined from 112,500 to 81,900 as companies like Monsanto and Goodrich turned their operations over to digital computer control. The dramatic changes in production practices brought about by computerization and continuous-process operations became apparent to the Oil, Atomic and Chemical Workers Union when their members struck oil-refining facilities in the early 1960s.״

״Walkouts failed to significantly slow production at the new automated factories. The plants virtually ran themselves.^^ In the succeeding years, the chemical industry continued to automate its production facilities, laying off more and more workers. From 1990 to mid-1992, productivity increased while the number of production and supervisory personnel declined by 6 percent of the industry’s entire workforce. Today, as Harry Braverman points out, “the work of the chemical operator is generally clean,” and it has to do with “reading instruments” and “keeping charts.'”^’

Not surprisingly, some of the most significant strides in

re-engineering and automation have occurred in the electronic industry. General Electric, a world leader in electronic manufacturing, has reduced worldwide employment from 400,000 in 1981 to less than 230,000 in 1993, while tripling its sales. GE flattened its managerial hierarchy in the 1980s and began to introduce new highly automated equipment on the factory floor. At the GE Fanuc Automation Plant in Charlottesville, Virginia, new high-technology equipment “places electronic components into circuit boards in half the time of the older technology.״

״At the Victor Company in Japan, automated vehicles deliver camcorder components and materials to sixty-four robots which in turn perform 150 different assembly and inspection tasks. Only two human beings are present on the factory floor. Before the introduction of intelligent machines and robots, 150 workers were required to manufacture the camcorders at Victor.”^^

In the household appliance industry new high-technology equipment, including computer-aided design, engineering, and manufacturing systems, robots and automated conveyors and transport systems are increasing productivity and eliminating jobs at every stage of the production process. Between 1973 and 1991, output in the household appliance industry in the United States increased at an annual rate of 0.5 percent. In the same time period, output per employee-hour increased at an average rate of 2.7 percent. As in other industries, productivity gains resulting from the introduction of new labor- and time-saving technologies has meant a decline in employment. Between 1973 ^^d 199I’ employment declined sharply from 196,300 to 117,100, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects it to continue to shrink. By the year 2005, a mere 93,500 workers—fewer than half the number employed in 1973—will be producing the nations total output of home appliances.’*^

The loss of production workers by product category in the appliance industry is staggering. In 1973,49,000 workers were employed in the refrigeration and freezer industry. By 1991 the number had fallen to 25,700, for an average annual decline of 3.5 percent. Laundry equipment manufacturers reduced their workforce from 28,300 in 1973 to 20,600 in 1991. In the electric housewares and fans industry, employment declined in the same period from 56,300 to 31,000. According to the Department of Labor, “Virtually none of this employment decline has resulted from growing imports or falling demand.”^^ In a detailed study of the home appliance industry, the department found that, “despite these employment dedines, the electrical housewares and fans industrial segment is a major success story in manufacturing. The continuing strength of demand for housewares and fans reflect attractive prices and a significant expansion in the number of products available to consumers. No industry is more associated with the Industrial Revolution than textiles. More than 200 years ago the first steam-powered machines were applied to the spinning of wool in England, launching a revolution in the way goods are produced. Today, while other industries have raced ahead into the age of automation, textiles has lagged behind, in large part because of the labor-intensiveness of the sewing process.

A study of the garment industry found that it takes upwards of sixty-six weeks for a garment style to move from design and fiber production to retail distribution. The long lead times and slow delivery schedules cost the industry more than $25 billion a year in lost potential sales. Most of the losses occur at the retail end, when stores are forced to mark down goods because of changes in fashion or changing seasons. Lost sales potential also results from out-of-stock items.^”

In recent years, however, textile manufacturing has begun to catch up with other manufacturing industries by introducing lean-production practices and advanced computer automation systems. The goal is to introduce flexible manufacturing and just-in-time delivery so that orders can be “tailor-made” to individual consumer demand. Some companies, like England’s Allied Textile Co., Parkland Textile Co., and Courtaulds, have begun to introduce robotization into their manufacturing process. Computer-aided design (CAD) has reduced the design time for a garment from weeks to minutes. Computerized dying and finishing systems have also been introduced.

Computerized systems are also streamlining the storage, handling, packing, and shipping of garments.”^^

Although the sewing of garments still remains labor-intensive, companies have been able to cut production time in other areas of the manufacturing process. Some now use computerized automated cloth laying and cutting machines. Microelectronic sewing machines have also been introduced into the sewing rooms, helping deliver a preprogrammed number of stitches accompanied by an automatic cutoff upon completion.”^^ Jack Sheinkman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, says that textile is fast becoming “a high-tech industry.” According to Sheinkman, “the labor

component has been reduced significantly” in recent years and accounts for little more than 30 percent of the production process. The rest of the process is automated.”^^

The new technologies are beginning to make garment manufacturing in the industrial nations cost-competitive with firms operating in low-wage countries. As more and more of the manufacturing process bends to re-engineering and automation, even third-world exporters, like China and India, will be forced to shift over from current labor-intensive manufacturing processes to cheaper and faster methods of mechanized production.״

״The automation of “high end” manufacturing—the making of fine garments—is already resulting in a record loss of jobs. In the textile companies surveyed in a recent English study, productivity and profits were found to be rising while employment rolls were declining. For example, at Allied Textile Company, pretax profit increased by 114 percent between 1981 and 1986 while employment shrank from 2,048 workers to 1,409.^^

In virtually every major manufacturing activity, human labor is being steadily replaced by machines. Today, millions of working men and women around the world find themselves trapped between economic eras and increasingly marginalized by the introduction of new laborsaving technology. By the mid-decades of the coming century, the blue collar worker will have passed from history, a casualty of the Third Industrial Revolution and the relentless march toward ever greater technological efficiency.״

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

ציטוט מתוך: Jeremy‏, Rifkin. ״The end of work : the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era.״ New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. iBooks.
‫יתכן שחומר זה מוגן על-ידי זכויות יוצרים.‬

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