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Industry Insight: Crisis on Asimov
Analysis & Commentary by Dr. Sheila Ronis

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By 2020, "cars" as they were known in the early part of the 21st century no longer existed. Their legacy of personal transportation was the PTV, completely driven by computers coming in all shapes and sizes. The enormous global supply base to the old automotive industry was very adaptive. They were able to change over to the ever-changing industry needs through their own capabilities since so much of the transportation knowledge in the latter part of the 20th century already resided inside their companies. The UAW, as well, realized that their new membership around the world needed the knowledge necessary to help the global industry, and their major value-add was providing those knowledge based manufacturing workers. Education and training had become the single greatest activity within the union.

By 2025, workers around the world were represented. Working and living conditions soared. So did the quality of life around the world. It was increasingly difficult to decide who was a "worker," and who was a "non-worker." Almost everyone was a worker and a manager and a leader. As labor-intensive jobs were gradually replaced with machines, every worker was a thinker, a problem solver, and a team player. Manufacturing facilities had an increasing number of workers with advanced degrees. The difference between workers in the manufacturing facilities and senior management blurred.

In addition, governments around the world took America's lead in protecting workers' health and safety. Many within the union itself questioned whether the UAW still had a mission.

The largest supplier to the PTV industry in 2085 is Delphi Services, whose ancient liaison with General Motors had been terminated at the turn of the century. The UAW decided to choose Delphi for an experiment in 2030 to see if PTV modular construction could occur in a Delphi facility with a different kind of relationship with the workers. After all, Delphi assembled PTVs for every OEM in the world. What if the workers weren't Delphi employees, but UAW employees, and the UAW didn't represent the people, but employed them? What if the UAW, in essence became a corporation? Its customers would then contract this corporation for its employees; the UAW's former members?

Over a period of a decade, that was exactly what occurred. The United Transportation Services Corporation (UTS) emerged as a global organization employing all the UAW's former members as well as most union leadership. The UAW, as a union, gradually dissolved. UTS quickly emerged as the world's largest corporation, supplying the knowledge-based workers for the transportation industry using their wonderful Quality Network process. Although UTS was a publicly traded company, it's employees still owned much of the stock and operated the company...very profitably!

As part of the original fire sale, IBM sold off several brand names to some Tier 1 interior suppliers. One snapped up the Cadillac name for luxury interiors. Another used Chevrolet for entry-level family interiors.

Along with the PTVs, there were many systems of mass transit throughout the solar system. Kiri had predicted this future the moment she realized the ramifications of her work so many years ago.

All of this history was foremost in Benson's mind as he thought about his day ahead.

Crisis on Asimov Chapter Two : Earth


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