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CWA establishes AI principles for workplace union bargaining

The CWA doesn't want to stop AI, but wants to ensure the technology is used in a way that benefits all workers and unions as much as possible.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

December 6, 2023

2 Min Read
The Weapon from 343 Industries' Halo Infinite.
Image via 343 Industries.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has revealed a set of principles related to artificial intelligence to be used by workplace unions. Chiefly, the main goal is for unions to use these as a guideline for when the technology is inevitably brought up during bargaining and negotiations with management. 

"Union contracts can set the rules for AI adoption," explained the CWA, "ensuring that workers have input into the design and implementation of new technologies and that new tools supplement and empower workers rather than automating and deskilling."

Under these principles, the CWA state that they "will not accept that the effects of AI systems are inevitable or pre-determined" and pledge both to hold executives accountable for the impact of their AI-related decisions and to be proactive in prioritizing AI in contract negotiations.

In bargaining for "contract language that protects against the negative effects AI tools can have on workplaces," the CWA acknowledges that it won't try to kill it outright. "Our goal in bargaining is not to stop new technologies," it assures, "but to ensure the benefits of new technologies are broadly shared."

Last night, SAG-AFTRA successfully ratified its contract with Hollywood studios. The deal features AI protections requiring "informed consent and fair compensation," though many (particularly voice actors) believe studios have a lot of wiggle room in regards to AI from now until the contract's end on June 30, 2026.

This year, AI has been a heavily discussed topic in video games and other creative fields like film and TV. At present, voice actors are negotiating with developers over both AI protections and wage increases and should an agreement not be reached, they'll go on strike.

CWA president Claude Cummings Jr. noted that AI may be a boon for human creators, but "only if it works for working people. We are taking a member-first approach and demanding that working Americans have a voice, guaranteed by their union contract, in how AI shapes the future of work."

Going beyond games, in mid-July, tech companies like Google and Microsoft elected to make their own AI safeguards. Months later, the Biden administration created its own first-ever executive order for AI, which called for companies to share safety test results with the government and create privacy evaluation guidelines.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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