Wrecking Cranes

Adam Kress revealed this disturbing news in the Phoenix Business Journal on September 4th :

“Payroll report: Nation loses 33,000 jobs in August”

“A national report released Thursday (by Automatic Data Processing Inc.) finds that the private sector shed 33,000 jobs in August …

“Data used in the ADP National Employment Report represents averages from the company’s payroll figures representing 24 million U.S. employees.”

So, based on figures representing, let’s say, five times that many U.S. employees (120,000,000), does that report tell us that five times as many private sector jobs (165,000) were shed in August? Whatever the number, these people are desperately in need of jobs. This downward economic spiral must be stopped, but the following disturbing news indicates that authorities have other concerns.

From Sunday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer we got this story:

“West Coast ports contract opens door to new technology”

“SEATTLE — The year 2008 could herald the greatest technological revolution on the U.S. West Coast’s waterfront since containerization.

“A six-year contract negotiated between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association paves the way for the introduction of highly efficient and job-displacement technology such as automated stacking cranes at 29 West Coast ports …

“This time around, negotiations began early and took place against a backdrop of spiraling fuel costs, a collapsing credit market and a plummeting housing market.” [Please note the failure to mention the nation’s “spiraling”– “collapsing” – “plummeting” unemployment rate. And please note the endorsement of “job-displacement technology”.]

And when did “stacking cranes” become “highly efficient”? It wasn’t too long ago that terminal operations were forced to resort to stacking, not because stacking was more efficient but because they had run out of acreage. Stacking containers is time-consuming and makes retrieval more difficult. These “automated” stacking cranes, by the way, go for almost $ 2 million apiece, and someone other than taxpayers and consumers are the beneficiaries of such sales transactions.

Harry Bridges had serious doubts about “technological revolution”. He made it clear that he wasn’t against mechanization, but he was adamant that technology should be introduced only as a benefit rather than a detriment to the unions. Harry will turn over in his grave if this “job-displacement technology” is ratified.