Unions that count toll booth employees and other blue collar workers as dues payers haven’t yet weighed in on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call to embrace automation.
While riffing at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas on Saturday, the Bronx socialist said Americans should embrace technology that could put millions of us out of work.
“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work, right?” she said.
“We should not feel nervous about, you know, the toll booth collector not having to collect tolls anymore,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die, and that is at its core, a problem. And so there are a lot of different solutions— a lot of different proposed, uh, ideas about how we go about that,” she continued.
“You know, Bill Gates has talked about taxing robots at 90 percent and what that means— what he’s really talking about is taxing corporations at 90 percent, um, but it’s easier to say tax a robot,” Ocasio-Cortez mused.
She went on to say our system is approaching “infinite resources.”
The Teamsters union — an influential labor union supporter of the Democrat Party, has long battled automation in both the private and public sectors.
The union wrote in 2017:
Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall testified yesterday at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on self-driving technology, urging for the exemption of commercial vehicles from pending legislation and the need for further analysis of the safety, jobs and cybersecurity impact of developing technologies.
“It is incumbent upon the members of this committee to help ensure that workers are not left behind in this process. It is essential that American workers are not treated as guinea pigs for unproven technologies that could put their lives at risk,” Hall said.
Hall noted the Teamsters Union is concerned about the impact of advanced automated technologies on highway safety.
“The safety and reliability of these vehicles must be ensured before passing legislation to put them on the road. We’re not there yet,” Hall said.
“The issues facing autonomous commercial trucks are fundamentally different, and potentially more calamitous than those facing passenger cars, and warrant their own careful consideration,” Hall said.
One, of course, is the loss of dues dollars. Or would those robots taxed at 90 percent also be required to be union members?