Labor unions aim to give workers more protection against the automated systems that increasingly rule the workplace.

What’s new: The Trades Union Congress (TUC), a federation of unions in England and Wales that represents over 5.5. million workers, launched a task force to lobby for collective bargaining, increased transparency, and legal protections related to AI in the workplace.

Challenges of automation: The move comes after the TUC produced a report that found widespread unease among British workers over automated systems that perform management tasks like scheduling shifts, analyzing performance, and determining layoffs.

  • Sixty-percent of workers surveyed worried that such tools could lead to unfair treatment.
  • Fifty-six percent said automated tools for monitoring the workplace eroded their trust in management.
  • Less than one-third said their employers consult with them when new technologies were introduced to the workplace.
  • Early next year, the task force plans to publish a report on how to ensure that workplace AI takes workers’ needs into account.

Why it matters: Earlier this year, a study found that many companies hesitate to deploy AI models for fear of public and legal backlash. Bringing workers into the process of deciding whether, when, and how to deploy them in the workplace could help overcome the fear and distrust — thought it could also slow AI adoption.

We’re thinking: AI is helping companies become more efficient. It also puts more power in the hands of employers by enabling them to manage workers in ways that were not possible before. We welcome efforts to ensure fair treatment of employees.

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