Driverless Jobs: Autonomous Vehicles & A Just Transition for Black Drivers

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DRIVERLESS JOBS:

Autonomous Vehicles & A Just Transition for Black Drivers

Author: Regan F. Patterson, Ph.D. Transportation Equity Research Fellow

SEPTEMBER 2021


Acknowledgments Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy, research, and educational institute that seeks to advance the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public. CBCF envisions a world in which all communities have an equal voice in public policy through leadership cultivation, economic empowerment, and civic engagement.

Center for Policy Analysis and Research The Center for Policy Analysis and Research (CPAR) identifies, analyzes, and disseminates policies and policy-related information critical to the economic independence, quality education, and health equity of African Americans. CPAR helps to fill the need for quality research and effective policy analysis regarding underserved communities.

Transportation Equity The CPAR Transportation Equity program conducts policy analysis and research as it relates to transportation, sustainability, and equity. This program is generously supported by State Farm.

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Table of Contents 4

Introduction

5

Black Employment in Transportation

9

Policy Recommendations for Just Transition

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Career Pathways in Clean Energy

15

Conclusion

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References

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INTRODUCTION Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are an emerging and disruptive technology that will restructure society. Autonomous vehicles have major implications not only for mobility, but also land use, the built environment, air pollution, health care, automobile insurance, identification cards, policing and the criminal (in)justice system. Moreover, autonomous vehicles will profoundly impact employment in transportation. Widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles is expected to begin in 2030, and they are predicted to become ubiquitous in the 2040s.1 Billions of dollars are being invested annually to bring autonomous vehicles to market.2,3 Several testing fleets are already in operation.3 Tech companies, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and academics are all working on autonomous vehicle technology. Until recently, development of this technology was largely funded by public dollars.

Man departing an autonomous paratransit shuttle operated as part of a pilot project in Detroit, Michigan.4

Now is the time for public policy to get ahead of the imminent introduction of autonomous vehicles. Public policy will shape the impact of autonomous vehicles and determine stakeholder benefit. One group that is particularly vulnerable to this technological innovation is people who work as drivers. African Americans rely on driving jobs more than any other racial or ethnic group.5 Thus, without proactive public policy, widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles has the potential to economically devastate the Black community. This outcome, however, is not an inevitability.

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Purpose This report highlights the significant relationship between the transportation sector and Black labor and the disproportionate economic impact of autonomous vehicles on African Americans. The report makes policy recommendations on how to prepare today for autonomous vehicles to ensure a just transition for Black drivers and the future of work for the Black community.

BLACK EMPLOYMENT IN TRANSPORTATION Historical Context

Hoh ah, hoh ah / Hoh ah, hoh ah / That’s the sound of the men / Working on the chain, gang / That’s the sound of the men / Working on the chain, gang6 Historically, Black labor was crucial to the transportation sector. During the era of slavery, railroad companies in the South relied on the labor of enslaved Africans.7 It is estimated that more than 20,000 enslaved Africans were forced to work for southern railroads.7 Their labor was used for railroad construction and maintenance. They were also firemen, who shoveled coal into the engine boilers, and brakemen, who stopped trains and coupled together rail cars.7,8 In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for those convicted of a crime.9 Railroad companies employed formerly enslaved people. One legendary figure is John Henry, who worked in railroad construction as a hammer man to make holes in rocks for explosives. His race against the steam drill has been memorialized in Black folklore and featured in a Disney animated short.7,10 At the same time, southern states passed “Black Codes.” The Black Codes were laws that only applied to Black people, criminalizing their freedom and perpetuating slavery as prisoners were forced to work for the state.11 Through the 1890s, railroads leased the predominantly Black convict laborers.7

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When you marry, marry a railroad man oh-ah / When you marry, marry a railroad man well now / Everyday Sunday, dollar in your hand oh-ah / Everyday Sunday, dollar in your hand well now12 Transportation jobs have played an important role in economic mobility and civil rights in the Black community. One instrumental position was the Pullman Porter. After the Civil War, George Pullman hired thousands of Black men as Pullman Porters to serve white passengers traveling in the luxury railroad sleeping cars he manufactured and operated.8 By the early 1900s, the Pullman Company was the largest employer of Black men in the country.8 The four largest terminals of the Pullman Company were New York, Chicago, Oakland, and St. Louis.13 The largest concentration of Pullman Porters lived on the South Side of Chicago.8 Pullman Porters used the railroads to distribute the Chicago Defender, the Black newspaper that helped fuel the Great Migration.14 Many porters also lived in West Oakland, which would become the West Coast headquarters of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.15 Pullman Porters were paid well relative to other jobs available to African Americans.7 However, they often worked 400 hours a month to meet the 11,000-mile travel requirement, received extremely low wages that made them rely on tips, and endured racial abuse.7 Employment segregation barred Black railroaders from top railroad positions, and racism in the labor movement excluded Black membership in unions. On August 25, 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was founded in Harlem to secure higher wages and improve working conditions.16 The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was the first Black labor union chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL).8 Its leaders were A. Philip Randolph, Milton Webster, and C.L. Dellums. On August 25, 1937, the BSCP won its first collective bargaining agreement, which included higher wages, a 240-hour limit per month, and overtime.7 Pullman Porters helped lay the foundation for the Black middle class. Notable men who worked as Pullman Porters include: North Pole explorer Matthew Henson; filmmaker Oscar Micheaux; blues singer Big Bill Broonzy; and educator Benjamin Elijah Mays. Among the children and grandchildren of Pullman Porters are: Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; journalist Marvel Cooke; journalist Ethel L. Payne; Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley; Roots author Alex Haley; jazz pianist Oscar Peterson; San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; and, Olympic track star Wilma Rudolph.7,20 Additionally, Pullman Porters played significant roles in the Civil Rights Movement (see Figure 1).

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Timeline of Pullman Porter Contributions to the Civil Rights Movement8,21,22

1941

In 1941, A. Philip Randolph and Baynard Rustin planned the first March on Washington to protest the exclusion of African Americans from defense industry jobs during World War II. This prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 in June 1941, which banned discrimination in the defense industry and established the Fair Employment Practice Committee. In response, A. Philip Randolph cancelled the march.

1955

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. She called E.D. Nixon, a Pullman Porter, leader of the local chapter of the BSCP, and leader of the local chapter of the NAACP. Since Nixon was often out of town due to his job, he called 13 ministers to help organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott in his absence, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1963

Members of the BSCP.17 Pullman Porters were depicted in art; plays; films, including The Emperor Jones featuring Paul Robeson;18 and poems, including Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Rosa Parks.”19

Baynard Rustin was the architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and A. Philip Randolph was one its leaders. On August 28, 1963, 250,000 people attended the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Less than a year later, President Kennedy signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Current Employment Statistics Transportation remains an important employment sector for the Black community. More than one million African Americans are employed in driving occupations.23 African Americans rely on these occupations for work more than any other racial or ethnic group.5 Comprising 12% of the U.S. population,24 African Americans are overrepresented in driving occupations, particularly Black men.23,25 Figure 1. Employment of African Americans in Driving Occupations

Bus drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago

Economic Impact of Automation Autonomous vehicles will render many driving occupations obsolete. While millions of people are at risk of being put out of work, African Americans will be disproportionately affected. An additional concern is the elimination of relatively well paying occupations available to individuals without a college degree. Most driving occupations require a high school diploma or equivalent, while there is no formal education requirement to be a taxi driver or chauffeur.26 The low educational barrier to entry is significant given that 88% of African Americans age 25 and older have a high school diploma, while only 26% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.27 The coronavirus pandemic provided a preview of the impact of future economic disruptions that may be caused by autonomous vehicles. In April 2020, unemployment rates in the U.S. spiked. The Black unemployment rate jumped from 6.7% in March 2020 to 16.7% in April 2020, and the white unemployment rate increased from 4.0% to 14.2%.28 Since then, unemployment rates have decreased. However, the disparity in unemployment rates between African Americans and whites has expanded, peaking in August 2020 with a gap of 5.4 percentage points.29 As of May 2021, the Black unemployment rate was 9.1%, while the white unemployment rate was 5.1%.29

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The widened gap and slower employment recovery for Black workers are partly due to the overrepresentation of African Americans in sectors that experienced huge job loss and are not rebounding as quickly, including transportation.30 The unemployment rate in the transportation sector surpassed the U.S. unemployment rate in March 2020 and has since remained higher as a result of job loss and layoffs.31,32

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A JUST TRANSITION African Americans are economically vulnerable to employment disruptions caused by autonomous vehicles. Policies must be in place to support career pathways and enable a just and equitable transition for displaced drivers to ensure autonomous vehicles do not cause nor exacerbate economic hardship.

Local Truck Driving Jobs Require companies to hire truck drivers as employees & strengthen worker protections. Long-distance truck drivers are expected to be among the first displaced due to early adoption of automation.33 During this initial period, local truck driving occupations will likely increase due to growth in e-commerce.33 The share of e-commerce in total U.S. retail sales increased from 11% in 2019 to 14% in 2020, and the e-commerce share is projected to reach 24% by 2025.34,35 On average, local driving occupations are paid less than those in long-distance driving due to lower unionization rates.33 Unionized drivers earn higher wages and have better benefits and working conditions than nonunionized drivers.33,36 Deregulation of the transportation industry in the 1970s and 1980s has contributed to decreased unionization rates.36,37 Further, deregulation of trucking has enabled the practices of hiring and misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. This allows companies to evade labor laws and shift truck ownership and operation costs to individual drivers.33,36 Contract drivers do not have the right to benefits nor the right to organize. For example, FedEx and Amazon contract drivers, who earn lower incomes than USPS and UPS union drivers and receive little-to-no benefits.38,39 One recently introduced policy that addresses worker protections is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would prevent employee misclassification and protect the ability to bargain collectively and join a union.40 It is important to note that investments in autonomous vehicles will ultimately result in the displacement of local truck driving occupations as well.

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Career Pathways in Tech As the transportation sector transitions to autonomous vehicles, displaced and future workers will need to learn the skills for occupations in the new automated economy, including in automation and artificial intelligence. Policies must increase access to education and training opportunities that are affordable and supportive, particularly of nontraditional students. Increase investment in public colleges and universities. Public investment in higher education must substantially increase to help people attend college and develop the skills required in an automated industry. Rising costs are a major barrier that may deter the pursuit of higher education. Between the 2008-09 and 2018-19 school years, state funding for public two- and four-year colleges decreased

FedEx has entered a long-term agreement with Nuro to test Nuro’s autonomous vehicles for deliveries.41 These vehicles can be seen in Domino’s commercials.

$6.6 billion.42 During this time, institutions significantly increased tuition and fees. Average tuition and fees rose by $930 at public two-year colleges and by $2,670 at public four-year colleges.43 Tuition and fees continue to rise.44 Additional expenses include room and board, books and supplies, and basic living expenses. Black students borrow loans to attend college at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups and borrow higher amounts, particularly for public two- and four-year colleges.45,46 For example, 33% of 2015-2016 Black bachelor’s degree graduates borrowed $40,000 or more, compared with 18% of white graduates.46 To lower the cost barrier of higher education, the level of public investment should be sufficient to eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges, making them free for all. Increase investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) play a pivotal role in educating Black students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. HBCUs graduate 18% of Black students who earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields, despite only enrolling 9% of Black students.47,48 However, these institutions are underfunded. HBCUs are more reliant on federal and state funding than non-HBCUs, yet they receive substantially less funding from these sources.49-51

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McNair Hall at North Carolina A&T State University.52 A&T produces the most Black graduates with bachelor’s degrees in engineering in the U.S.53

In the American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration acknowledged that inequities in federal research and development dollars and in access to STEM careers prevents the U.S. from reaching its full economic potential.54 Furthermore, there are huge inequities in state funding on a per-student basis.50,51 Although states are required to match federal support for land-grant institutions, states are failing to meet the matching requirement for Black land-grant institutions while often exceeding it for their other land-grant institutions.51 Inequitable funding systems have been the focus of recent investigations in Maryland and Tennessee.55,56 There must be increased oversight of states to ensure they provide the same level of funding to their land-grant HBCUs and non-HBCUs. Further, public investment should be adequate to eliminate tuition and fees at public and private HBCUs. Increase investment in tech pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships are “earn and learn” programs that combine paid, on-the-job training and classroom learning to provide alternative career pathways. From 2009 to 2019, the number of active registered apprentices nationwide grew by 51%, 14% of which indicated their race as African American.57 Despite growth in apprenticeship participation, only 1% of active apprenticeship programs are in the professional, scientific, and technical services industries.57 Increased investment in tech apprenticeship programs can support the creation and expansion of such programs. The National Apprenticeship Act would allocate funds to create one million apprenticeship opportunities over five years.58,59 Importantly, this Act encourages employers to target participants who are formerly incarcerated or system impacted.59 A just transition must ensure economic inclusion for all workers. This is especially important as occupations amenable to hiring formerly incarcerated individuals, such as truck driving,60,61 are eliminated.

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CAREER PATHWAYS IN CLEAN ENERGY Target investments in clean vehicle infrastructure in Black communities. The transition to a clean energy economy provide new employment opportunities for displaced and future workers. As noted in the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan, infrastructure investments produce good, high-wage jobs.54 Infrastructure investments in public transportation provide a large share of jobs to African Americans.62 The majority of jobs created are non-construction jobs. Every $1 billion in public transportation capital investment, which includes infrastructure, supports and creates 12,600 jobs, of which only 30% are in construction.63 Public transportation investments also improve job access. Building public transportation in communities with high unemployment generates up to 2.5 times more jobs than when placed in communities with low unemployment.64 Electrifying the transportation sector will require substantial investments in charging infrastructure. The recently released Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework includes $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.65 Equity considerations must guide charging infrastructure investments to address disparities in charger access. For example, in California, access to public charging stations is lower in Black majority Census block groups, and the access gap is even larger for publicly-funded charging stations.66 One policy that promotes equitable access to charging infrastructure is the Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act, which would create 200,000 charging stations nationwide in underserved communities by 2030 and analyze policies across the country that increase charging infrastructure deployment in underserved communities.67 An analysis of 78 utilities located in 36 states found that only six states have a law or commission order directing utilities to address equity in their transportation electrification or electric-vehicle supply equipment investment plans.68 Policies must include explicit criteria and metrics to ensure all communities benefit from transportation electrification.

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Require local hiring and workforce development. Investments in clean vehicle infrastructure are good for job creation. To ensure that job opportunities are made available to African Americans, infrastructure projects should use Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefits Agreements that include local hiring mandates and funds for local workforce development programs. Additionally, infrastructure projects should prioritize Disadvantaged Business Enterprises during contracting.

Federal Safety Net

The Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program, which was written by Bobby Seale and Dr. Huey P. Newton and published in 1967, includes, “We want full employment for our people.”69 It states, “We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income.”

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We need an economic bill of rights. This would guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work. It would also guarantee an income for all who are not able to work. Some people are too young, some are too old, some are physically disabled, and yet, in order to live, they need income. It would mean creating certain public-service jobs.”70

Enact a federal job guarantee. A federal job guarantee would guarantee every person a legal right to a good job with living wages, safe working conditions, full worker rights, and health care and other benefits.71 Dr. Sadie Alexander, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in economics, was the first economist in the U.S. to call for full employment in 1945.72 She proposed it to protect Black workers from racial discrimination in employment.

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During the 1960s, both the Black Panther Party and the Civil Rights Movement advocated for full employment. Automation, urban disinvestment, and white flight were causing devastating job losses in the Black community.73 Coretta Scott King was instrumental in continuing the push for full employment in the 1970s.74 She helped secure passage of the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (Humphrey-Hawkins), which was co-authored by Representative Augustus Hawkins, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).74 The Act established employment and inflation goals.

Full employment was one of the demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.75 Some signs read, “Civil rights plus full employment equals freedom” and “We march for jobs for all now!”

However, the final bill did not include a full employment mandate.

Now, as automation disproportionately threatens the economic well-being of African Americans, a commitment to full employment will help ensure their economic security. Recently, the Federal Job Guarantee Resolution was introduced, which calls for a federal job guarantee and proposes creating federal public-service jobs that meet community needs in physical and human infrastructure, including public transportation infrastructure.76 Establish a federal guaranteed income program. Guaranteed income is the provision of continuous unconditional cash payments from the government to individuals. 55% of voters in the U.S. support a guaranteed income.77 Black voters strongly support guaranteed income (79%).77 Currently, there are more than 20 guaranteed income pilot programs in cities across the U.S.78 California’s recently approved state budget funds the first statewide effort to help local governments start guaranteed income programs.79 On a national level, the recently reintroduced Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act would establish a three-year, federally-funded program to provide monthly cash payments to participants and study the outcomes.80 A temporary nationwide guaranteed income program is currently being implemented via the Child Tax Credit expansion enacted in the American Rescue Plan.81 The Biden Administration’s American Families Plan proposes extending the expanded Child Tax Credit for five years, and Democratic Senators are pushing to make the expansion

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permanent.82,83 Recent studies on Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Jackson, Mississippi and the Stockton Economic Empowerment demonstration (SEED) show that guaranteed income reduces barriers to completing education and to obtaining full-time employment as well as supports child care and unpaid care work.84,85 This suggests that guaranteed income is a critical resource for helping displaced workers transition to new employment. Expand Medicaid eligibility.

Mother and daughter standing outside a Waymo autonomous ride-hailing vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona.88 Other companies are planning to launch autonomous ride-hailing services to the public, including Cruise, the autonomous vehicle unit of General Motors.89

38 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid for low-income adults making up to 138% of the federal poverty level.86 In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act could not require states to adopt the Medicaid expansion.87 However, all states should expand Medicaid eligibility to enable displaced workers to have access to health care while seeking new jobs and/or education and training opportunities.

CONCLUSION Autonomous vehicle testing fleets are on the road now. Widescale adoption of this labor displacing innovation will eliminate driving occupations. Whether this results in disproportionate economic disruption for the Black community depends largely on how public policy supports displaced workers and equitably creates employment opportunities. This report identifies immediate policies that will make the transition to autonomous vehicles economically inclusive and just.

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DRIVERLESS JOBS:

Autonomous Vehicles & A Just Transition for Black Drivers

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. 1720 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20036

SEPTEMBER 2021