AI & Labor

Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Local 9009 announced the creation of the AWU-CWA 9009 Committee on Artificial Intelligence in Summer 2024. The committee will bring together AWU-CWA members from various locations, product areas, and employment classifications to guide our union’s approach to the opportunities and challenges presented by the development of artificial intelligence (AI) at Alphabet and in the broader tech industry. 

AI has become an essential part of Alphabet's business and it is critical that our union is at the forefront of understanding its impact on our members and industry. This committee will utilize members' skills to ensure that AI products prioritize the interests and well-being of our members. 

The committee will engage in a member-driven comprehensive campaign on AI, labor, and policy, with a sociotechnical approach to how AI may reshape the landscape of work at Alphabet. It will also consider how contract language, legislation, and organizing strategies can be adapted to ensure that workers receive a fair share of the value of any productivity increases unlocked by AI uptake.

The committee includes members across product areas who will create a coalition with subject matter experts from academia, social justice organizations, and the tech industry. 

The Committee on AI continues Alphabet Workers Union-CWA’s tradition of engagement with issues around AI. Some highlights of that engagement include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • And when Google and Appen had AI raters illegally fired in retaliation for organizing, we were there to push back and helped Appen workers win reinstatement and back pay.
  • We’ve lobbied Congress to advocate for the inclusion of worker protections in any federal AI regulation scheme.