Belabored: Cyborg Taylorism in the Warehouse, with Beth Gutelius

Belabored: Cyborg Taylorism in the Warehouse, with Beth Gutelius

How close are we to fully automated robot logistics?

A robot sorts and stacks bins at an Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, California on August 31, 2021 (Watchara Phomicinda/MediaNews Group/The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images)

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In this episode, we’re returning to the supply chain story, this time looking in on the warehouse. Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island and Bessemer continue their push toward union votes, and warehouse workers around the country have been registering unrest in a variety of ways. But what is really going on inside the warehouse, how does it connect to shipping, trucking, and retail, and how close are we to fully automated robot logistics? Beth Gutelius, research director of the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois Chicago, joins us to discuss.

We also check in on the strike votes in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools with Ma-Riah Roberson Moody, an education-support professional in Minneapolis, and the union drive among Apple store workers. We talk about a victory for the U.S. women’s soccer players in their fight for equal pay, and legislation that would end forced arbitration for workplace sexual harassment and assault. For Argh, we consider the life of an ER doctor during the pandemic’s latest wave and what the Black Plague tells us about labor struggles today.

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M. Isabelle Caudry and Jamillah Bowman Williams, Banning workers from suing their employer hurts people of color and women most, The Hill

Andrew Das, U.S. Soccer and Women’s Players Agree to Settle Equal Pay LawsuitNew York Times

Beau Dure, The USWNT got $24m in their equal pay battle. Now comes the hard partGuardian

Sarah Roach, Some Apple Store employees are starting to unionizeProtocol

Mara Klecker, Teachers unions in Minneapolis, St. Paul set 10-day strike warningStar Tribune

Minneapolis, St. Paul teachers and support staff authorize strikeStar Tribune



Beth Gutelius

Amazon unionization vote was a referendum on automation — and it’s not over yetPhiladelphia Inquirer

What Will New Technology Mean for the Future of Warehouse Work?The Startup

The Future of Warehouse Work: Technological Change in the U.S. Logistics Industry

Sarah Jaffe, It’ll Take a Movement: Organizing at Amazon after BessemerNew Labor Forum

Organizing Big Tech, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung


Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Sarah: M.T. Anderson, In Medieval Europe, a Pandemic Changed Work Forever. Can It Happen Again?New York Times

Michelle: Yoojin Na, My life as an ER doctor during Covid: “People walk in, throw their garbage at you, and walk out,” Guardian