For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Jane Chung, firstname.lastname@example.org
20+ Groups Tell Congress: Center Worker Rights in AI Debates
Worker groups and civil society sent a letter to Chuck Schumer urging him to address misuses of tech on workers throughout the Senate process
This morning, 24 organizations sent a letter to Leader Schumer, urging him to center workers and their rights in AI debates in Congress. This letter was sent as Chuck Schumer’s second insight forum commenced. The closed-door forum, according to reporting by Axios, was focused on innovation, and featured 12 industry executives, five leaders in academia, three members of civil society, and one labor leader. This letter adds to growing criticism about the secretive and industry-friendly nature of this process.
“It is workers who make AI work. Amazon Mechanical Turk workers, who train AI models, are no exception. AI policies must prioritize both safe and dignified working conditions for workers who make the technology possible. Furthermore, any discussion of AI policy should be led by workers, not billionaires who profit from them,” said Krystal Kauffman, Lead Organizer of Turkopticon and Research Fellow at the Distributed AI Research Institute.
The organizations’ letter highlights the ways AI is already used by employers to degrade worker pay, benefits, working conditions, health and safety, and more. Signers of the letter urge Congress to:
- Prioritize the health, safety, and wages of data workers that develop and train AI.
- Fortify workers’ right to organize and bargain around these issues, without being subject to employer surveillance and union-busting.
- Protect against predatory surveillance and automated management practices that can harm our physical and mental health, undermine wages, and increase precarity.
- Address ‘black box’ processes that have already proven to discriminate: hiring, firing, wage determination.
- Change public policies that currently incentivize job replacement, deskilling, and fissuring (or “gigify”).
- Guard against low-road business models that concentrate wealth and power away from working people into the hands of corporations.
- Incentivize innovation that enhances worker well-being and shared economic prosperity.
Across sectors, workers have been organizing against AI systems used by their employers. Amazon Mechanical Turk workers, who train AI models, have banded together to improve conditions and pay, but Amazon and the employers on the platform have yet to comply. The Writers Guild of America, in its contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, won a deal including worker rights to credit and compensation, regardless of whether AI is used in part of their work. In Minnesota, Amazon warehouse workers organized to win landmark protections. Employers must now provide warehouse workers with written information about all quotas and performance standards they are subject to in the worker’s primary language. Protections also include freedom from disciplinary action against workers who may fail to meet a quota that wasn’t disclosed.