|Quoting enilria (Reply 44):|
More accurately, technology is destroying more middle class jobs
That's close, but there's more to it. Corporate decisions about how to profit from the technology are driving the job losses; the technology doesn't simply "do" something on its own. If you wanted to see three agents at the gate again, you could do it, and the benefits of technology would simply go to the employees and not stockholders. Currently, employees are not consulted about how technology is used in advance. Those plans are made by a select group of managers, and other employees are then expected to implement those plans without the chance to vote on how the technology is being used. A station could retain all of its employees, for example, and have kiosks so the agents would be able to maintain the same productivity without doing as much work. That would result in an improved quality of life for the agents. However, the way market capitalism works, gains from productivity (automated check-in) are pushed to the top so investors and upper management benefit from technological advances instead of the employees. Such gains cannot be realized without increasing worker productivity, meaning that each agent hired must now equal 100 people checked-in an hour instead of 20. Perhaps the agents are performing fewer check-ins, but who knows if their focus has just shifted to customer service problems, meeting the plane and making boarding announcements, etc. instead of performing an actual check-in. Regardless, one agent now represents multiples of agents that used to do that work in the past; that's why you see reductions in force and outsourcing to save money so that investors (and the managers that decide in their favor) may profit from the technology instead of sharing the gains with the agents. The unions should have stepped in and addressed the "technological sucking" taking place at the airport years ago, but there have been a lot of fires to put out in the past 20 years. The agents have also not been keen enough to organize as often as their peers.