AT&T Mobility Worker Discusses Impact of AI with White House Staff
Last week, CWA Local 3519 Vice President Ylonda Sherrod participated in a White House listening session on the use of automated technologies by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage their workers.
Sherrod, who currently works as a Sales and Service Representative at AT&T Mobility and has been with AT&T for 17 years, shared her experience with the AI technology that AT&T has implemented and explained that although the tools are supposed to assist with customer concerns, they typically do just the opposite and contribute to a stressful work environment in the process.
“I think AI could be great for helping workers with simple tasks, but without the use of human creativity, it won’t be able to do the more complicated tasks that are usually needed to truly help the customers,” Sherrod told the group. “It is unfair that AI is being used to replace the invaluable experience of human workers. It’s even worse that us workers are basically training our replacements and being asked to help the creators make these systems better at doing our job. Company investments into more AI feels like a major threat to my job security as companies don’t have to ensure safe working conditions, livable wages, or affordable healthcare for AI in the same way that they have to for employees. The reality is that although I know that AI can’t replace my job, it doesn’t mean that companies won’t try to do that anyway.”
Sherrod was joined by trucking, warehousing, home health care, and app-based ride sharing workers who raised concerns about health, safety, privacy, fair pay, labor organizing, collective bargaining, and reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board attended to listen to the workers, ask questions, and learn more about the impact of these technologies from the people who actually use them.
Sherrod’s participation underscores the importance of union representation for workers who want to have a say in how these technologies are being used. While other workers are often afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation, she feels comfortable expressing her concerns since collective bargaining agreements prevent employers from disciplining or firing workers without cause.
The Biden-Harris Administration has issued a request for information from the public to learn more about these issues in order to help them develop new policies to protect workers and to promote best practices.
CWA Local 3519 Vice President Ylonda Sherrod (center) participated in a White House listening session on the use of automated technologies by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage their workers.