AI and Labor

As tech workers, Alphabet Workers members are among the first to be impacted by the artificial intelligence tools that are currently upending the world labor market.

We are organizing for protections for workers from AI, in defense of our own jobs and on behalf of the billions of workers worldwide whose livelihoods are soon to be impacted by AI.

Here’s what we’ve been up to so far.

When Google AI researcher Margaret Mitchell was suspended and then fired for blowing the whistle on discrimination and unethical AI practices inside the company, AWU spoke out in her defense.

AWU press statement on Margaret Mitchell

When a group of Google Help workers, contracted through Accenture, were pulled off of their regular jobs and reassigned to work on Google’s AI tool Bard, AWU was there to support them as they formed a bargaining unit.

We were there when Google and Accenture retaliated by laying off almost the entire Google Help team who had worked on Bard. And we were there to file an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB for these retaliatory firings.

And this week we’re holding a union election for the leadership of the Google Help unit, to ensure that these  workers aren’t forced into AI training roles they didn’t sign up for - roles that often include viewing disturbing and violent imagery.

When workers at Appen, a Google contractor working on the Bard AI tool, reported that their workloads were skyrocketing and they were being forced to view disturbing content including child sex abuse material, we were there to help them organize.

Screen shot from Fortune Magazine coverage of Accenture workers assigned to Bard

When one of our members sent a letter to Congress raising concerns about working conditions for AI workers leading to unchecked disinformation, we were there to support and amplify.

AWU statement in support of Ed Stackhouse

And when Google and Appen had AI raters illegally fired in retaliation for organizing, we were there to push back.

The Appen AI raters were reinstated, with back pay, because when we organize, we win.

Now we’re continuing our work to push Congress to implement safeguards for workers as they begin regulating new AI technologies.

Tweet from AWU urging Senator Chuck Schumer to include AI workers in AI hearings

We just signed onto a letter with other unions and civil society organizations, making eight concrete demands for Congress for the regulation of AI and protection of workers.

This week we called on President Biden to enact specific protections for workers through his executive order on "safe, secure, and trustworthy AI." We want to see more specific protections for workers than "develop principles and best practices" and "produce a report on AI’s potential labor-market impacts."

This is just the beginning of a long fight to protect workers and our democracy from the potential harms of AI.

As the workers who make AI possible, we don't trust Google to not “be evil” as they drag us through a new industrial revolution.

We trust our fellow workers.