AFL-CIO and Microsoft Team to Give Workers a Voice on AI


The AFL-CIO and Microsoft have teamed to explore workers’ input into artificial intelligence (AI) development.

The partnership is the first of its kind between a labor union and a tech company to focus on AI, per a Monday (Dec. 11) news release.

According to the release, the collaboration has three goals: to share information among labor leaders and workers on AI technology trends, to get worker input and expertise on AI development, and to help shape public policy that supports frontline workers’ skills and needs.

“This partnership reflects a recognition of the critical role workers play in the development, deployment and regulation of AI and related technologies,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

“The labor movement looks forward to partnering with Microsoft to expand workers’ role in the creation of worker-centered design, workforce training and trustworthy AI practices. Microsoft’s neutrality framework and embrace of workers’ expertise signals that this new era of AI can also catalyze a new era of productive labor-management partnerships.”

According to the release, the partnership builds on a neutrality agreement between the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) and Microsoft covering video game workers at Activision and Zenimax, along with the labor principles announced by Microsoft in June 2022.

It also includes an agreement with Microsoft providing a neutrality framework for future worker organizing by AFL-CIO affiliated unions.

The collaboration comes at the end of the year that has seen some bold predictions for how AI will impact the workforce.

For example, OpenAI executives predicted recently that AI will within 10 years be able to do any job a human can thanks to the advent of “artificial general intelligence” or AGI.

And Tesla CEO and X owner Elon Musk has said that AI would one day render all jobs obsolete, speaking of a time when the technology will outsmart the smartest person, leading to a situation where “you can have a job if you want a job . . . but AI will be able to do everything.”

“Like any technological advancement, AI is disruptive and could have a significant impact on the labor force,” PYMNTS wrote recently. “However, its operation still requires human management, creating a demand for labor with new skill sets.”

According to one survey, 84% of business leaders say they think that generative AI would have a positive effect on their workforces, while 97% said the technology would give their employees more time for more thoughtful and creative work.