Labor Innovation & Technology Summit

At the Labor Innovation & Technology Summit,  labor leaders spoke to the unique role unions play within a new era of artificial intelligence (AI) and outlined strategies for continued collective victories to ensure working people reap the gains of technological innovation. 

The summit coincided with CES 2024 in Las Vegas in early January—one of the world’s largest tech trade shows. Speakers included:

  • Julie Su, acting U.S. secretary of labor 
  • Maya Wiley, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Janet Haven, executive director of Data & Society 
  • Matt Scherer, senior policy counsel for workers' rights and technology at the Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Jodi Forlizzi, Herbert A. Simon Professor in Computer Science and HCII, and the associate sean for siversity, equity and inclusion in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University

Watch the summit here:

Here are some insights from the summit:

“Educators, public employees and health care professionals help people build better lives, make our economy stronger and sustain a vibrant and functional democracy,” said American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten. “We’re also on the front lines of preparing the next generation, helping them gain the skills they need to get jobs. That’s why harnessing new technologies, including advocating for its fair and transparent use, and ensuring workers' rights and dignity are maintained in an increasingly automated and digitized work environment is part of our DNA. The Labor Innovation & Technology Summit is an important opportunity for unions and our other partners to discuss ethical approaches to emerging technologies in our workplace and our society. Working folks are the ones leading us through this work, and our voices must be part of the conversation.”

“We are at a technological crossroads with the rights and economic security of workers at risk. At the Amalgamated Transit Union, the LIT summit is important because technology and AI impact our members’ lives," said ATU International President John Costa. "Transit workers keep our towns and cities moving. In a world where technology and automation seem to advance at an unprecedented pace, we remain the irreplaceable human touch. We’re the eyes and ears of our communities. We’re here to say we won’t be left behind. Together, we can ensure AI benefits workers and the people we serve. Our voices matter.” 

"Technology's rapid evolution is changing every part of the economy and workplace—creating new challenges and opportunities for workers across the country,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “That's why it is so important we take advantage of events like this summit to come together, share information and strategies, and set a course that will ensure working people get their fair share of the prosperity created by the new technologies."

“Given the timing and rapid deployment of artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry, the Labor Innovation & Technology Summit (LIT) and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) may be the most important technology trade shows we’ve ever attended. We’re proud to co-sponsor the event, continue collaborating with our allies as well as identifying emerging technologies which could threaten IATSE sisters, brothers and kins’ livelihoods,” said International President Matthew D. Loeb of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

“Nurses are all for tech that enhances quality of patient care, but we will never be silent as our employers try to automate what we do for our patients—who all deserve expert, hands-on care and human compassion,” said National Nurses United (NNU) Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “We know that, through collective action and labor solidarity, workers have the power to determine how AI and tech shows up in our economy and in our professions. We’re feeling empowered and energized after this week’s movementwide discussion on how workers can win in the face of tech and AI.” 

"Technological change has always been a hallmark of the transportation sector and it always will be. But the pace of technological change we are seeing today is unparalleled in human history, and requires a labor movement that can equally adapt,” said AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) Chief of Staff Matthew Colvin, who was recently selected to serve on the Department of Transportation's Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee to help shape a federal approach to innovation in transportation sectors. “The Labor Innovation & Technology Summit is an opportunity for us to do exactly that, and to remind tech companies that unions expect to be partners in innovation. By centering the voices of workers in the heart of the conversation about innovation and technology, we can guarantee that we are not bystanders to that change. Harnessing workers' expertise is the only way to ensure that technological advancements enhance safety, efficiency and the overall success of our transportation systems.”

"Organized labor is the only real bulwark that working men and women have as this torrent of new technology races towards us. It’s absolutely critical that unions come together to share information and strategize on how to protect our members’ ability to earn a living and take care of their families," said Transport Workers Union (TWU) International President John Samuelsen. "No one else is going to do it, certainly not disingenuous profit mongers seeking to make obscene profits by developing ways for companies to reduce, or completely eliminate, headcount. It’s up to the labor movement." 

“With corporations clamoring to use AI and other technology to either automate away jobs or shift the work onto consumers, it’s up to the labor movement to ensure workers have a seat at the table so that technology improves lives for workers and the public,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor. “This last year UNITE HERE is proud to be one of the unions that led the way in securing new labor contracts with the strongest language on technology protections to date. This year’s summit will continue the conversation for how we can keep winning around innovation for working-class people everywhere.”