Press Release | Future of Work

AFL-CIO Launches Technology Institute

Amanda Ballantyne Named Inaugural Director

Today, the AFL-CIO launched its Technology Institute, which will leverage the power of technology and innovation for the labor movement. Leading this cutting-edge initiative is Institute Director Amanda Ballantyne, who brings diverse experience in labor and economic justice work. As executive director of the Main Street Alliance, she grew a groundbreaking project into a powerful, national organization. Under Ballantyne’s leadership, the organization developed campaign strategies to engage small business owners in winning a variety of progressive reforms, including job-quality policies like earned sick time, minimum wage and family leave.

The pace of current technological breakthrough is happening so fast, it has no historical precedent. Experts call this the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology, like automation and artificial intelligence, is changing life and work, and how people connect and communicate. And the COVID-19 pandemic is only accelerating the digital transformation.

Technology and innovation can and must raise standards and wages, yet as we are seeing today, many technologies are being developed simply to replace working people during a time when inequality is raging. Rapid transformation raises questions on the future of work—about jobs and profits, training and reskilling, innovation policy, algorithm bias and data privacy, and democracy and power. The Technology Institute will serve as the labor movement’s think tank, to help us solve issues created by technology in collective bargaining and in any place it arises.

“The labor movement is uniquely positioned as the only force in the country with enough power to make sure working people are at the center of the issues on the future of work. Under Amanda’s leadership, the institute is going to be a hub for skills and knowledge to help labor reach the next frontier, grow and deploy our bargaining power, and make sure the benefits of technology create prosperity and security for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.

“By growing labor’s expertise and capacity, our tech institute will put power behind workers’ voices,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We can use technology for good, not greed, to bridge inequality and create opportunities in a future that works for us. That’s a decision. And with Amanda’s direction, labor will help lead the U.S. to make the right ones.”

The AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions, a body representing working people in every sector of the economy, recommended creating the institute as its top priority. It will serve as a collaboration center and hub to develop knowledge and capacity that will shape and engage technology; identify emerging tech disruptions and opportunities; connect labor organizers and workers everywhere innovation is happening, at every step in the process, upstream and downstream; build organizing tools and bargaining best practices; call attention to workforce development opportunities in emerging sectors where good jobs prevail; and strengthen existing partnerships while building new ones.

“We look forward to partnering with our unions and with innovative universities, think tanks and organizations that share our vision of putting the voices of working people at the forefront of ‘future of work’ conversations,” Ballantyne said.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb, 202-637-5018