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Dock Workers Jobs Threatened by Automation

TraPac LLC, a shipping terminal based in Los Angeles recently stated how switching to becoming a fully automated company has increased their speed of deliveries and their profit margin, all while cutting back on carbon emissions. Many docks are looking to switch to this type of technology in order to operate a cleaner, more efficient, and cost friendly operation. While this may seem attractive in the eyes of environmentalists and the insiders of the shipping industry, the dock workers themselves are quite unsettled by the idea. Switching to fully automated terminals will cut 10,000 of every 14,000 union workers, taking away a large amount of jobs for dock workers. This has created a large divide between workers unions, companies, and the government. “New technology is fine if it keeps our workers safe, but full automation means that our jobs are gone,” said Jim McNamara, a spokesperson for the International Longshoreman’s Association.

Although the problem seems as if it should be left up to the port itself to decide, many are already leaning in that direction. California as a whole is expecting a 40% increase in traffic and therefore see the need to expand, making the need for robots and full automation a must. The cost of these robots and technology would be expensive, but ultimately worth it in the long run. Do you think this industry needs to switch to robotic technologies? Are these jobs worth losing? How will this switch effect our current economy?


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