The Space Pilot’s Association and the Union of Spaceship Engineers are the main American unions for civilian space crew, with strong links to the AFL, CIO, and other labour organisations. In 2106 they merged as the SPA/USE. Since most of the members are above average intelligence – stupid people rarely get jobs aboard spaceships – they have taken steps to limit the power of the President of the union, and its local officials, to ensure that organised crime can’t gain control. As an honest union with a strong interest in the welfare of its members, the SPA/USE is a considerable thorn in the side of the Interplanetary Corporation, and has for years been negotiating for better crew conditions, better safety equipment, and above all reliable control systems that don’t require incessant supervision and correction.
Logically, they should be (and are) in favour of automated control systems, provided that they aren’t used to replace skilled personnel. Unfortunately the current management of the New York Times is in the pockets of Interplanetary and vehemently anti-union, seizing on any opportunity to make the SPA/USE look bad, and the interview with Donald Cunigghiuni was heavily edited – he was told that “a source” had told the paper that Interplanetary planned to use the new technology to phase out skilled pilots and engineers in favour of robots, and reacted to that. The paper will run a retraction in a couple of days, once the union’s lawyers get to work.
The story won’t fool most SPA/USE members, but several other unions with less impressive credentials are taking an interest. Most notably, the Teamsters (who represent hundreds of thousands of transportation employees on Earth) would dearly love to represent spacefarers too, since it would give them more “clout” with Interplanetary, who are a major employer on Earth as well as in space. Word is spreading out from the Teamsters to their affiliates on other worlds, and the Endeavour’s flight will be plagued by “spontaneous” cargo handler’s strikes etc. Meanwhile the SPA/USE has asked its members to keep an eye on the progress of Endeavour’s trials, with a view to making sure that any worthwhile advances reach the civilian sector as soon as possible.
This is most likely to be a problem in places where the population is primarily American; anywhere in the United Americas on Earth, of course, Erotia on Venus, Nivia on Titan. For the most part it will be a low-key nuisance, not a serious problem. Until the time it isn’t…
There will be a scenario outline based on this general idea, basically the Teamsters try a little "harmless" sabotage to make the new technology look bad.