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Bringing Workers Voice into Technology and Employment Strategies

Course exploring ways in which worker representatives can negotiate with employers and vendors to shape new technology entering the workplace to benefit workers

start date
6 weeks
3-4 hours per week

About this course

All across the world we see technologies coming into our workplaces that will change how work is done. But too often the people who are most affected and know best how technology could be used to improve their work, and make it safer and more productive, have no voice in these decisions. As a result, too many workers are left to bear the costs of technological change without sharing fairly in its benefits. Throughout history unions have been and continue to be the main way workers have gained a voice in shaping the conditions of work. But today, workers and their unions often don’t have as strong or direct role in many of the key decisions about technologies that are shaping the future of work. We need to change this.

That’s’ why our MIT team is partnering with the AFL-CIO Technology Institute to offer this course tailored just for you—workers and union representatives on the front lines. We will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to make technology work for you, for your peers, for workers you may represent, and for your employers and our society. So, join us in this course to learn about how workers and their representatives can make this happen!

We will show how to build worker voice into all stages of the technology development and implementation process—from early stage research and development, to initial design of these tools, to how they are brought into our workplaces and used on a day to day basis. And we will bring all this alive with examples of how workers and leading unions in the U.S and from around the world are breaking new ground in ensuring workers’ voices are being heard in these decisions so these tools are put to use to drive innovation and improve the quality of work.

You will learn from each others’ experiences in dealing with these issues by participating in our online discussion forums. And, together with you, we will build a network of worker leaders who continue to support each other as we move forward together.

We know that making all this happen requires the power to get a seat at the table in all these phases of technology development and use. So, we will talk directly about how to build the power you need to make all this happen. Our motto will be: Technology is too important to leave to the technologists.

So, join us and let’s shape the future of work together in ways that make technology work for all!

What you’ll learn

How to represent workers to shape new technology entering the workplace. Specifically we will focus on how to:

1) identify the problem that technology will solve,

2) integrate technology and work system design,

3) build workforce skills for changing technologies, and

4) negotiate and implement fair adjustment practices for all workers impacted by technology change.



Meet your instructors

  • Tom Kochan

    Professor Thomas A. Kochan is the George M. Bunker Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research. He is a leading expert in work and employment relations and has been directly involved in advising governments, businesses, and labor unions to improve the world of work for the past 40 years. One of his previous books is Restoring the American Dream: A Working Families Agenda for Work.

Who can take this course?

Because of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions and other U.S. federal regulations, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea, Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions of Ukraine.