Revolutionizing the Workforce: AFL-CIO and Microsoft’s Groundbreaking Partnership for AI Development and Worker Empowerment

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AFL-CIO and Microsoft have announced a unique partnership centered on AI and the workforce’s future. The alliance aims to create an open dialogue about AI’s development and implementation, considering workers’ needs and perspectives. This initiative is the first of its kind, focusing on sharing AI technology trends, incorporating perspectives in AI development, and shaping supportive public policy for frontline workers’ technology skills and needs.

New Tech-Labor Partnership Announced

On December 11, 2023, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Microsoft Corp. announced a pioneering partnership. This collaboration aims to foster open dialogue about how artificial intelligence (AI) can anticipate and meet the needs of workers, incorporating their voices in its development and implementation.

First of its Kind

This partnership is the first to focus on AI between a labor organization and a technology company. It aims to achieve three primary goals: sharing in-depth information on AI technology trends labor leaders and workers; incorporating worker perspectives in AI development; and shaping public policy to support the technology skills and needs of frontline workers.

Building on Previous Agreements

The partnership builds on the historic neutrality agreement negotiated by the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) with Microsoft. This agreement covered video game workers at Activision and Zenimax and included the labor principles announced by Microsoft in June .

Neutrality Framework

The partnership also includes a neutrality framework for future worker organizing by AFL-CIO affiliate unions. This framework confirms a joint commitment to respect the right of employees to form or join unions, develop positive labor-management relationships, and negotiate collective bargaining agreements that support workers in an era of rapid technological change.

“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.
“By working directly with labor leaders, we can help ensure that AI serves the country’s workers,” said Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft.

Goals of the Partnership

The partnership aims to deliver on several key goals, including AI education for workers and students. Microsoft will provide formal learning opportunities on the latest and prospective developments in AI, providing labor leaders and workers with critical information and insights on this new technology as it evolves in the future. These learning sessions will begin in the winter of 2024.

  • The partnership is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a labor organization and a tech company focused on AI.
  • The alliance aims to share in-depth information on AI technology trends with labor leaders and workers.
  • It seeks to incorporate worker perspectives and expertise in the development of AI technology.
  • The partnership will help shape public policy that supports the technology skills and needs of frontline workers.
  • Microsoft will provide formal learning opportunities on the latest and prospective developments in AI, starting in the winter of 2024.
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