Today’s News & Commentary — February 2, 2018
The NLRB inspector general is investigating whether Board member William Emanuel broke government ethics rules when he took part in the Board’s recent actions overturning the Obama-era joint employer standard, ProPublica reports. Before Trump appointed Emanuel to the Board, Emanuel was a shareholder in and employee of Littler Mendelson, a law firm involved in Browning-Ferris, one of the joint employer cases.
Two articles in The Atlantic look at automation’s impact on work. One analyzes a report by Uber’s Advanced Technologies group projecting that self-driving trucks will generate rather than endanger jobs. Uber’s projection assumes that self-driving trucks will push an entirely new model of trucking that would fuel short-range driving jobs for truckers even as it eliminates some long-range driving jobs. A political director for the Teamsters on the west coast agreed that the industry could be moving toward this model but questioned Uber’s narrative and predicted that any new jobs would bring “further erosion in job quality.” The second article looks at new data indicating that employers plan to use artificial intelligence to boost and not to replace workers. This requires training, the article notes, and it’s not clear who is going to provide that training.
Meanwhile, the Times reports that Amazon has procured two patents for wristbands that not only track a warehouse employee’s movement but can also use “haptic feedback,” which is vibration technology, to guide that employee’s hand toward a particular area, like the proper inventory bin. The patent says that the technology would streamline tasks, saving time, but it isn’t clear whether Amazon intends to roll out the wristbands.
Finally, the Economic Policy Institute has a “deregulation year in review” that recaps deregulatory actions related to workers since Trump took office.