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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 14

14 Apr, 2023

CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 14

Credit: Illustration: Alex Hinton for The Intercept

From ChatGPT to Quillbot to BARD, AI has taken the world by storm. Social media is filled with influencers, celebrities and execs looking to capitalize on this rapidly emerging field. For example, Elon Musk, who has been very public about the dangers of AI, is selling the very product he is against. But with all the noise, one important aspect is not being noticed—the contract workers and employees who are directly working on these new products. Thousands of contract workers who review AI responses are being overwhelmed by the new workload. Workers are being paid per prompt and are given only 60 seconds to give accurate responses. Even workers who are not directly working on AI are worried. Some are concerned regarding the military applications of AI. Other workers are wondering if they'll still have a job. We must develop safe AI under democratic control and that means making sure workers, not billionaire executives, are centerstage. Reach out!



On Saturday, April 15th, join us for an organizer training at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT where we talk about connecting with co-workers and union basics. And on Saturday, April 22nd at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT join us for a building the committee training where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!


Worker News  

credit : Eric Blanc @_ericblanc @CODE_CWA

Above: worker solidarity at the Rutgers strike

Google Contractors Say They Don't Have Enough Time to Verify Correct Answers From the Company's AI Chatbot and End up Guessing

Google contract workers are evaluating answers from the Company’s AI chatbot. Although the workers have been told this is for a “hypothetical AI” the pressure put on workers suggests otherwise. Just weeks after OpenAI’s ChatGPT was released, the workers started rating AI prompts. In addition, raters are frustrated at the increased pressure and unrealistic time frames (just 60 seconds) that are given to check prompts. As one rater points out, “some people are going to say that's still 60 seconds of work, and I can't recoup this time having sat here and figured out I don't know enough about this, so I'm just going to give it my best guess so I can keep that pay and keep working.” Another rater said one 60 second task took more than 3 hours of extensive research which is a very inefficient use of time. In addition workers are paid per response, so even though they want to provide accurate feedback, they end up guessing to get the wage they deserve. Read more on here

Activision Threatened, Spied on Workers Amid Union Drive, U.S. Agency Alleges

The National Labor Relations Board is moving forward with prosecuting Activision Blizzard. The company has been known to illegally surveil employees, devise policies to limit their freedom on social media, and has even threatened to close internal slack channels to stop workers from discussing working conditions. The workers, with the help of CWA, have already filed multiple complaints with the NLRB. Although the labor agency has not issued a final ruling, the workers’ and CWA’s claims have been deemed to have merit. "In spite of Activision Blizzard's anti-union efforts, workers continue to organize, speak out about their working conditions and win union campaigns," said CWA in a statement. Read more on Reuters

Google's 'Ghost Workers' Are Demanding to Be Seen by the Tech Giant

Over half of Google’s entire workforce (200,000) are contract workers. These “ghost workers” are assigned work directly from Google, but are underpaid and get no benefits. A group of these “ghost workers” at Google subcontractor Appen are looking to change that. According to Google’s Wages and Benefits standards, contractors who work at least 30 hours per week receive benefits from Google. However these workers are not allowed to work more than 29 hours per week. "What we're asking for now is just to be allowed to get the same benefits as people who work 30 hours a week are supposed to get. And if we have to work 30 hours a week in order to get them, people would be happy to do that," said Teresa Partain, a content moderator for Google’s ads. The workers have already created a petition with over 850 signatories, held a rally with almost 50 contract workers, and have even sent letters to Google executives. AWU and CWA stand with the “ghost workers”. They want equal pay for equal work, and will keep up the pressure until they get it. Read more here

Google and Amazon Struggle to Lay Off Workers in Europe

Within the last 6 months almost half a million workers were laid off around the world. Tech companies, especially in the US, have seen a record breaking number of layoffs— Google fired 12,000 people. However these companies are not able to do the same layoffs in Europe. Many European countries have strict laws that require companies to bargain with labor protection groups before layoffs. Companies like Google and Amazon are now relying on voluntary departures. Amazon has even offered some managers one year's pay to get them to resign. “People have realized the way things happen in the US versus France and Germany. It is inspiring for people in the US to see things are different in other places – it’s a blueprint for what people can fight for,” said Parul Koul, executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA and a software engineer at Google based in New York. Read more on Bloomberg

Apple Continues Efforts to Keep Retail Stores From Unionizing

Apple has ramped up its efforts to prevent workers from unionizing. During the last few weeks, managers from around 270 retail stores held meetings with staff members with prepared messages from Apple corporate. In the meetings, managers attempted to dissuade workers from unionizing by drawing attention to union dues, union autonomy, and other potential “disadvantages” of unions. The company has also refused to provide new benefits to unionized outlets, and is not agreeing to union demands at the Towson location. The company has only made 2 proposals, which includes a clause to increase disciplinary action against employees, and has already rejected 20 proposals offered by the bargaining group. Read more on Bloomberg


This Week in History

April 16th 1916 – A dispute over hiring practices leads to 25,000 New York City garment workers to be locked out. After a successful general strike, 60,000 strikers win the contractual right to strike as well as union recognition. The strike organized by the Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union lasted 14 weeks. 


Song of the Week

Working Class Hero - Green Day

They keep you doped with religion, and sex and TV

And you think you're so clever and classless and free

But you're still peasants, as far as I can see

A working class hero is somethin' to be

A working class hero is somethin' to be

There's room at the top, they're tellin' you still

But first you must learn how to smile as they kill

If you wanna be like all the folks on the hill

A working class hero is somethin' to be

A working class hero is somethin' to be



MWWC 7055



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