Four-day week, finding more meaningful work: GS Hoffman makes strong case for negotiating over AI


Four-day week, finding more meaningful work: GS Hoffman makes strong case for negotiating over AI

Artificial intelligence was a top theme at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos this week, and UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman was in the Swiss mountain village to stress the necessity of collective bargaining – especially over technologies like AI.

The overall theme of this year’s meeting was “rebuilding trust,” and Christy Hoffman made the point that for trust to be established around the implementation of AI, employers must negotiate with unions on its introduction.

During Wednesday’s “Thinking Through Augmentation” panel, which included CEOs of Deloitte and L’Oréal, she said, “Workers around the world are anxious about what AI means for them. They are worried about displacement and job loss. To address this anxiety, they must be included in the process.”

That includes, “having an open mind about how we reconstruct our working time. If productivity grows, then it is possible that instead of layoffs, we see a rise in the discussion about a four-day work week. But again, this is to be negotiated.”

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, who led more than 60,000 actors and performers on a 118-day strike with AI as a core issue, shared the stage with Hoffman for a “Workers in Focus” discussion on Tuesday. He noted that the decisions about the implementation of artificial intelligence are being made by humans – not machines – so we take responsibility for these choices and put people first. To do that, “workers should have an important role in making those decisions,” he said.

In addition to meeting with business leaders and human rights defenders at Davos, UNI’s Hoffman was part of a global union delegation that spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about the Biden Administration’s Global Labor directive to advance labour rights and build unions. 


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