Politics

Markus Winkler flipped the East End’s District 17 from Republican to Democrat in November when he defeated longtime Councilman Glen Stuckel, who served for more than 15 years.

Winkler lives in Anchorage and is a project manager for FedEx, where he pays special attention to how the company uses advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation. He is also interested in how the emergence of these technologies will affect the workforce at his company and across the city.

The new Metro Council members will be sworn into office on Jan. 7, 2019. You can listen to my conversation with Winkler in the player above.

Who else would you work with to make actual, near-term changes that could affect workers in Louisville?

There are four groups that have to align: It’s city leadership, both through the Mayor and the Metro Council. It’s our business leadership. It is JCPS leadership, potentially through technical and trade education. And it is community and faith-based groups because in some areas we also have to provide cultural support to solve some of these issues.

When people in your district talk to you about their concerns with employment, what do they say?

We have some business owners there and their inability to find labor is the number one challenge that our business community has. As there is a shortage of labor, employers have to fill that somehow and what is increasingly happening is that labor gets supplanted by technology. People see that happening and it’s not a leap to see how that creeps into other industries and how it moves further and further up the value chain in terms of the type of work that it’s going to supplant.

How can the government be thinking about these technologies, both in terms of how it will affect the workforce as well as its own functioning?

The issues with our pension crisis are well-known, so having fewer and fewer private-sector workers and a larger and larger public-sector workforce is not a sustainable solution, and so as these technologies get deployed and reshape the way that we work in general, those impacts are bound to come into the public sector as well. And we don’t need to fear them, we just need to understand how do you find that balance and how do you help shift your workforce to higher level work. But that requires investments in the workforce to make sure that they have the skill sets for the type of work that will be here and will be in demand.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.