Microsoft and AFL-CIO collab to liberate workers with AI

abstract image of humans | Microsoft and AFL-CIO

Microsoft and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) have entered a partnership to create an open dialogue on how AI will educate workers, incorporate labor’s voice in tech development and help shape policy that supports workers.

As the first of its kind between a labor organization and tech company, the partnership will focus on AI and aim to deliver three goals: sharing in-depth information with labor leaders and workers on AI technology trends; incorporating worker perspectives and expertise in the development of AI technology; and helping shape public policy that supports the technology skills and needs of frontline workers.

Building on the historic neutrality agreement between the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) and Microsoft, as well as the labor principles announced by Microsoft in June of 2022, the partnership also includes an agreement with the tech giant that provides a neutrality framework for future workers organizing by AFL-CIO affiliate unions.

This framework confirms a joint commitment to respect the right of employees to form or join unions, to develop positive and cooperative labor-management relationships and to negotiate bargaining agreements that will support workers in an era of rapid technological change.

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

“This ground-breaking partnership honors the rights of workers, learns from the advice of labor leaders, as we develop technology, and helps us provide people with the skills that will become essential in a new AI era.”

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

“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.”