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Labor’s Principles on Use of Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Technology in the Workplace

Labor’s Principles on Use of Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Technology in the Workplace

Labor has developed principles for the use of Artificial Intelligence, automation, and other technology in the workplace that can harness the potential to improve working conditions and make work safer and more productive.

  1. There is nothing inevitable about AI technology. The future of workers, and the extent to which AI and other technology will displace workers or impact their work, should not be determined by tech companies. The Labor Movement defends the interests of all workers by challenging corporate interests’ push to replace people with robots. Truck drivers, bus drivers, janitors, construction workers, social workers, firefighters, and nurses are not replaceable, and our unions will stand together to protect good jobs and the quality services our members provide.
  2. Workers must have control over the use of technology at work. There is no substitute for a collective bargaining agreement that allows workers to negotiate the uses of technology in the workplace. Regulation of AI, automated decision systems, automation, and other technologies should require that workers are part of the development, procurement, and deployment of technology at work. Technology should make work safer, more productive, and increase workers’ skills, not worsen conditions or eliminate jobs. The best way to do that is to treat technology, including AI, as a tool for workers to control, not that controls them.
  3. Workers have a right to informed consent. Before implementing workplace technologies, workers should have the right to be notified of the technology, justification for its use, what data will be collected, and how it will be used. Workers must have the right to access and control the use of their data, especially when used to make employment decisions. Workers should control the use of their data, work product, and likeness whether used to train generative AI systems or to be used by third parties.
  4. Human oversight is critical. New technology like AI is a powerful tool, but it is just a tool that needs human oversight. There must be a role for humans in making and overseeing all consequential workplace and employment decisions. This includes decisions that impact the public such as service provision, benefit eligibility, court proceedings, or other public programs. Automation, such as driverless vehicles, also must have human oversight with the ability to override if necessary. There are also some decisions that are too important for technology to be the sole decision-maker, such as for hiring, discipline, terminations, work quotas, or wage setting.
  5. Prevent the abuse of technology. Technology has the power to mine our data and track and control our every move. Facial recognition, predictive behavioral analysis, profiling, and other surveillance technology should not be used on or off the job. This is especially important when it is used to profile or predict the likelihood of workers to organize or file complaints or be used to prevent workers from exercising their right to organize or other protected rights. Algorithmic management tools or quotas should never be allowed to require a worker to violate labor or health and safety laws. Technology should be tested and assessed before deployment to screen out the potential for abuse or law violations. The companies that train AI or other technology should be held liable when technology causes harm, violates the law, or has other adverse impacts.
  6. There is dignity in work, and we must fight to protect good jobs. AI and other technology could potentially displace millions of workers. Technology policies should preserve jobs and avoid mass displacement of workers in the hopes that public programs will fill the gap.

SM: OPEIU 29 AFL CIO