Labor unions and political leaders from around the world are already seeing the future of AVs, and they are laying the groundwork to oppose the job losses that are likely.
The Teamsters, a union that represents a lot of truck drivers, is warning that terrorists may use AV trucks as mobile unmanned bombs. “Teamsters are the safest and most experienced drivers in the country…We want to alert the public of the risks that corporations … are willing to take at the expense of working people.” They fear that not only could the AV trucks be intentionally used as bombs, but that careless corporate interests could haul hazardous materials carelessly.
The AFL-CIO transportation lead, Larry Willis, has “said Congress is progressing too quickly without understanding the full effects of autonomous vehicles, which ‘are likely to cause massive job dislocation and impact worker safety.’”
The fears of job losses due to AVs is likely to be substantial—perhaps 4 million or more, largely hitting drivers of buses, taxis, and trucks. Unions have “successfully lobbied for the [US] House to include a 10,000-pound weight limit in the legislation,” which would exempt semis, for the moment, from AV trucks from being legislated in the same way as passenger cars
Meanwhile, India’s minister for Road Transport has stated that “We won’t allow driverless cars in India…I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs.”
The struggle between jobs and technology is real and will have real impacts. The totality of the impact, in the end, is hard to judge at this point.