Undercurrents of the changes to work that automation brings

Michael Anthony Keane

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation UTAcademic

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Abstract

Presently there is a gap in the research regarding how the individual building trade union member experiences his or her work with computerized technologies having devalued the required human skills of that work. Computerized and automated technologies have devalued human labor, resulting in workers having different experiences with work. This research relates this devaluing of human labor and the worker having different experiences to the work of a building trades union and how the members of such a union are resistant to or ready for organizational change necessarily required for survival due to the structural model of such a union; the building trades union, in this case the sheet metal workers, has a business model where commoditized labor is their “product.”

A qualitative method of documentary analysis as well as a quantitative method using an online survey with Likert scale options, including an option to respond individually, was offered to a nationwide selection of members of the sheet metal division of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers union.

The quantitative results, obtained using latent class analysis of the survey responses, showed that while there was a sizeable minority of members resistant to change, the majority of rank-and-file sheet metal workers were ready to embrace the changes that computerized technology and its subsequent training requirements would have upon their work. The qualitative results show that work has become abstracted, skills have become obsolete or have been deskilled, and skill sets of computerized technology usage are required of the worker. New work in the building trades has workers having to interact with a virtual edifice and, specifically for the sheet metal worker, with virtual ductwork delivery systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and other trade related entities.

Sheet metal workers need to learn to operate different forms of computer interface tools to manipulate these virtual models. Additionally, conversely to other studies where skills devaluation or skills obsolescence has led to declining wages the members of the sheet metal workers’ union have actually risen. Finally, with new computerized and automated work for the sheet metal worker there is cause to reimagine and reconsider the collective bargain agreement (CBA), the union contract, as the CBA relates to work from an industrial economy rather than an information economy which this new work is part of.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Wilderom, Celeste P.M., Supervisor
  • Thatchenkery, T.J., Supervisor
Award date25 Apr 2018
Place of PublicationEnschede
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4529-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Sheet metal
Automation
Personnel
Obsolescence
Wages
Air conditioning
Ventilation
Interfaces (computer)
Rails
Heating
Air
Industry

Cite this

Keane, Michael Anthony. / Undercurrents of the changes to work that automation brings. Enschede : University of Twente, 2018. 240 p.
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title = "Undercurrents of the changes to work that automation brings",
abstract = "Presently there is a gap in the research regarding how the individual building trade union member experiences his or her work with computerized technologies having devalued the required human skills of that work. Computerized and automated technologies have devalued human labor, resulting in workers having different experiences with work. This research relates this devaluing of human labor and the worker having different experiences to the work of a building trades union and how the members of such a union are resistant to or ready for organizational change necessarily required for survival due to the structural model of such a union; the building trades union, in this case the sheet metal workers, has a business model where commoditized labor is their “product.”A qualitative method of documentary analysis as well as a quantitative method using an online survey with Likert scale options, including an option to respond individually, was offered to a nationwide selection of members of the sheet metal division of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers union.The quantitative results, obtained using latent class analysis of the survey responses, showed that while there was a sizeable minority of members resistant to change, the majority of rank-and-file sheet metal workers were ready to embrace the changes that computerized technology and its subsequent training requirements would have upon their work. The qualitative results show that work has become abstracted, skills have become obsolete or have been deskilled, and skill sets of computerized technology usage are required of the worker. New work in the building trades has workers having to interact with a virtual edifice and, specifically for the sheet metal worker, with virtual ductwork delivery systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and other trade related entities.Sheet metal workers need to learn to operate different forms of computer interface tools to manipulate these virtual models. Additionally, conversely to other studies where skills devaluation or skills obsolescence has led to declining wages the members of the sheet metal workers’ union have actually risen. Finally, with new computerized and automated work for the sheet metal worker there is cause to reimagine and reconsider the collective bargain agreement (CBA), the union contract, as the CBA relates to work from an industrial economy rather than an information economy which this new work is part of.",
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Undercurrents of the changes to work that automation brings. / Keane, Michael Anthony.

Enschede : University of Twente, 2018. 240 p.

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation UTAcademic

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AB - Presently there is a gap in the research regarding how the individual building trade union member experiences his or her work with computerized technologies having devalued the required human skills of that work. Computerized and automated technologies have devalued human labor, resulting in workers having different experiences with work. This research relates this devaluing of human labor and the worker having different experiences to the work of a building trades union and how the members of such a union are resistant to or ready for organizational change necessarily required for survival due to the structural model of such a union; the building trades union, in this case the sheet metal workers, has a business model where commoditized labor is their “product.”A qualitative method of documentary analysis as well as a quantitative method using an online survey with Likert scale options, including an option to respond individually, was offered to a nationwide selection of members of the sheet metal division of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers union.The quantitative results, obtained using latent class analysis of the survey responses, showed that while there was a sizeable minority of members resistant to change, the majority of rank-and-file sheet metal workers were ready to embrace the changes that computerized technology and its subsequent training requirements would have upon their work. The qualitative results show that work has become abstracted, skills have become obsolete or have been deskilled, and skill sets of computerized technology usage are required of the worker. New work in the building trades has workers having to interact with a virtual edifice and, specifically for the sheet metal worker, with virtual ductwork delivery systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and other trade related entities.Sheet metal workers need to learn to operate different forms of computer interface tools to manipulate these virtual models. Additionally, conversely to other studies where skills devaluation or skills obsolescence has led to declining wages the members of the sheet metal workers’ union have actually risen. Finally, with new computerized and automated work for the sheet metal worker there is cause to reimagine and reconsider the collective bargain agreement (CBA), the union contract, as the CBA relates to work from an industrial economy rather than an information economy which this new work is part of.

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